Landing immigrant: Career planning

From the perspective of a person trying to build a comfortable life nowadays, the fact that my family emigrated to a new country means my life planning will be drastically different. For the record, I am a typical Asian working in the field of engineering. It’s not a career that I aspired to when I was small and I am the first one out of all members of my family tree to become an Engineer. My blood is that of artists and salesmen.

My dad sat me down one day during the frenzy of preparing for finals and applying for the program I want to talk about my career. I believe that up until that point, I’ve exhibited a preference towards art and acting. The genes from my mother’s side. In Taiwan, I excelled at it and was reinforced by my peers that I am very good at both. I believed in that fact myself. You can see the same result from my grades. I wasn’t that good at math like your stereotypical Asian guy.

What he told me was this: “You are an immigrant and that is a fact. You cannot plan your life ignoring the biggest change that has happened to you so far. You need to ask yourself, what can you do that is naturally better than the people who were raised here so you are not always playing catch up.”

“Lawyer? Actor? Can you out-talk a local in French? In English?”

My father showed me some of his frustration as well: “I learned a new word today at the age of 40, it’s called conspiracy (Excruciating and slow attempt at pronouncing the word, we are not good with words that have more than 3 syllables). People here grow up knowing what that word mean. How can you expect to beat them at their own game which they’ve been playing far longer than you?”

“Let’s say that you can. What do you think will happen when a white CEO is trying to decide between a white and an yellow guy when both are equally qualified and with the exact same background? White of course. Wouldn’t you choose your own kind as well? Don’t you think it will be even worse in other fields where the results are more subjective?”

That, is what I call “shattering of dreams” in my life. The moment when I realized the difference and admit that it exists. This “difference” continued to co-exist inside me on a day to day basis as I see the other world’s reality whenever an event happened in the wrold I live in. This “other world” of the yellow culture that continues to give me insight to what could’ve happened differently and provides ironic comedy to what would’ve been otherwise a perfectly normal assumption on normality.

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