My grandmother started crying… and I suddenly knew why
I’m 28 and lucky to still have one grandparent around.
When I recently visited Boston, I captured random moments with my grandmother… like Sunday morning Dim Sum, hitting up the Chinese bakery, and eating fruit at her place.
…and it’s an unspoken rule. Asian people will always cut up fruit… even if you’re not hungry.
Asian grandparents are notorious for naked baby pictures
Normally we stay for 10 minutes and leave, but this time she took out my baby photos and started telling me stories about…
- How I used to call my females up before cellphones existed
- How I was the refugee ghetto
- How I used to always make her smile when I would “airplane”
She wanted me to keep the photos
The thing I didn’t tell you? My grandmother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing surgery. Especially after moving to California, who knows when the last time might be?
After safeguarding these photos for the last 28 years, she took the opportunity to pass these photos to me in person. It wasn’t easy.
When my grandmother leaves this world, the only thing left will be the memories spent together and this photo album.
As I was staring at my naked pictures…
I started thinking about my life.
I felt this pressure to chase a big paycheck or higher degree to be successful. It was a lot of anxiety trying to figure it out.
Over seven years were dedicated to pharmacy. Now that I had all those things …now what? I didn’t know what being successful meant anymore.
…Was I successful?
Then it came to me…
As I was looking through the album, I realized my grandmother never went to school. She wasn’t a doctor, lawyer, or entrepreneur, but still in my eyes, she was “successful“.
Whether it was hiding from the Japanese during WWII, working crazy hours at a sewing
factory sweatshop, or moving to a country where she didn’t even speak the language, her life was dedicated to her family… just so we could be happy.
It isn’t about which school you went to, what degrees you have, or what car you drive. You can’t take that Lambo to the grave with you.
My grandmother continues to remind me that success doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s about discovering how you can best help the people around you.
For me right now, it’s through pharmacy, Refugee Hustle, and YouTube. Hopefully it’ll be through raising my own kids one day .
So let me ask you…
Maybe you’re in school trying to figure out why you’re even in college. Or maybe you’ve graduated and don’t know what you want to do next. Before you go out and start chasing degrees or a sexy ass paycheck, ask yourself this…
There are infinite ways to help people. How do you want to help the people around you?
Leave a comment below. I read every comment.
Very cute photos!!
Mudda sank you 🙂
I understand that feeling too trying to get my degree stuggling to keep up all those things just to find wats happy especially in nyc
NYC is a great place to figure that out man 😉
When I look back at my life, I feel as though I’ve been helping people ever since I can remember. That’s not to say that I’m a saint. Nope. Far from it. What I mean is that I grew up always caring for the younger children that played with me. I was always too young for adults or too old for the children. So I learned from a very young age to take care of kids, then people as I grew older. I’m not an expert at it, but I try. I’ve sacrificed a lot to keep my family afloat. Sometimes it breaks my heart when my sister tells me that she loves me and that without me our family wouldn’t survive and she thanks me for how hard I work to keep us together. She’s only 11 years old. It’s weird, I don’t feel like I’m doing very much. It’s like that saying goes, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world”. It’s cheesy, but it’s true. I’ve had to learn the hard way that success isn’t having a lot of money in your bank account and I’m barely coming to grips with the fact that I may never be as successful as others who chose careers that were easier to get jobs in. I feel happy that I have the opportunity to choose what I want to do, that I’m not forced to get married. Sure, my parents are probably wondering what’s wrong with me because I’ve never had a boyfriend, but I don’t care. I get to do what I want without having to make compromises to someone who may not be who I think they are. I’m probably getting a little off topic. Come to think of it, I think I had a little wooden cabinet just like that, but I would hide in the gaps.
I’m very sorry to hear that your grandmother is ill. It’s a tough thing to go through. I hope she makes a steady recovery after her surgery so she can provide you with more days of happiness.
Corny as it sounds, but that quote actually vibed with me. Especially being grown in an Asian family, I always felt this pressure that what I do is never enough… and sometimes I still feel it today. But then when I talk to my mom, my brother, and even some of my readers it reminds me that there’s a lot of people who actually look up to me and I’m grateful for that.
I’m not exactly poor, but relatively to the ‘average’ I would consider myself below that line. For instance me my mum and brother live in a large household with my aunts and grandma etc (cos u know Asian families are really collective). Anyways, not asking for empathy or anything, but do feel as though my motive behind trying to reach success is the right approach?
I’m at uni right now and ultimately I really just want to make my mum proud, being financially stable so I can buy her a house and so she doesn’t have to worry about the struggles of you know just life lol. I know money isn’t everything but do you think my approach is right or is it ‘selfish’ in some way? Honestly, I still have no idea what I want to major in… I guess I feel kinda ‘lost’
Cheers, Anthony 🙂
Actually I want to eventually do the same thing and take care of my parents. That’s the reason why I want to do so much more than just be a “pharmacist” and went into learning about startups and entrepreneurship. It’s a hard grind, but it’ll be all worth it. I keep on thinking about being there for her during the last years of her life. Kinda morbid, but it’s something we all have to eventually face.
I hope your grandmother will do alright. Best of wishes are for you, her and your family.
I am kind of new to your blog, and I enjoy your articles. They are kind of reflective inspiring, which makes me thinking of myself a lot. I never have a concrete answer to your question though, it has been changing as I grew up. I used to think that getting good grades and respect my parents are the way of helping people as they feel proud of me. Now being in pharmacy school, I believe that the best way to help people is being myself, or my positive self. I do see my altitude affect my friends’ behavior, like cheering them up will enlighten their mood, and their positiveness helps me being happy as well. It goes both ways.
And it took me like 20ish years to learn it. But learning is for life, you know.
Thanks Giang for the comment and good luck in pharmacy school. I definitely shared the same realization as you… the more I grow myself the more I can help the people around me. And actually that’s one of the reasons why I started RH as well. Especially when you become a pharmacist, that’s going to mean a lot. Most of the people you will see are going to be sick and going through rough times. As a pharmacist, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to help make their day a bit better.
I don’t know how I can help people or even if I want to. But I guess, my dream is to make it on YouTube someday. A lot of depressed people or people who have bad days watch youtube to pick themselves up. It would be cool to be part of a community like that as I’m doing something I love. That’s why I joined JumpCut, but I’m so fucking lazy. My motivation wanes so easily. Maybe because it’s comforting to know that I didn’t give my all and if I only did that, then I would make it. But I’ve been just lazing all day and even stopped attending college. I feel dreadful. Desperate. I subscribed to get off my ass, but I still haven’t haha. I know what to do, I’m just not disciplined. I want to turn the excuses into reasons to do something.
Anyway, kinda irrelevant, but I’m done with my rant.
I know for me the most motivating thing about YouTube was seeing the money grow. Don’t get me wrong, I love the positive comments… but the fast you get your paycheck the more real it becomes.
dam, that’s a sexy gma