Made In America


July 4th is my favorite holiday! It reminds me of Thanksgiving where we eat to our heart's content, except there's great weather and flip flops! Also similar to Thanksgiving, I always feel a strong sense of gratitude on this day. 

I often think of what my life would have been like if my parents did not immigrate to the US. How growing up in Vietnam would have shaped my personality, my decisions, and my values. Would I still want to help people in health and fitness, would I have the opportunity to start my own business, would I love the same movies? Vietnam has progressed immensely in the last 10 years, but I wonder how long my sassy outspoken temperament would have lasted growing up in a third world country where misogyny rules. 

After I go through these burning questions, I have a sense of relief and am grateful that I will never know. But being first-generation American, I watched my parents attempt to assimilate to a new culture, learn a new language, get a job, and raise two kids that talked back in English. And because of this there is an unspoken toll that comes over me with every decision I make. I feel an immense responsibility to fulfill the American Dream and a need to succeed in order to be worthy of my parent's hard work. 

Anyone who has ever started a business or started something from nothing understands that the pressure you put on yourself to become successful can also be the very thing that hinders your success. This self-inflicted pressure creates a storm of impatience and self-doubt that leads to anxious thoughts. I convince myself that if I continue to work long and hard hours that the anxiety will subside. That one day, I will become successful enough to reciprocate my mom's sacrifice. But, this ridiculous pressure I put on myself needs to stop and today, I'm reminded that I am exactly where I need to be. 

Today, I will slow down and celebrate a country where I can be sassy and outspoken without fear of being misunderstood. A place where I've met friends of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, and beliefs who have become family to me. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July and that you are living your "pursuit of happiness".