My mom left everything behind when she was 16 to escape communism during the Vietnam War. She was one of the so called,”boat people,” and lived in Malaysia for a year before immigrating to the United States in the 1970’s. I was born in the mid-1990’s and didn’t really understand life as an immigrant in the U.S. until I learned about how immigrants are actually treated today. In retrospect, I was kind of a little brat because I would question why my mom would always push me to do well in school when she didn’t go to college herself. (She was an immigrant woman in the 70’s, the odds were against her.) Not only was she raised in the countryside, she was also a woman in a very traditional culture. (i.e., It was expected of her to do things like cook and clean.) I’ve come to truly appreciate being able to call a place home and being an educated male in today’s society. Growing up, my mom would ask me if I’d take care of her when I got older and I said I would. I used to view it as this huge responsibility and was stressed out by it. I now view this as the greatest gift I can give her because not only is she a frickin’ war survivor, but she also was able to give me more than enough love to make up for the lack of a father-figure.
My immediate family was always close with my extended family growing up. This makes sense because they immigrated together and they supported each other, so there was always an emphasis on family growing up. Personally, my family values developed when I was a kid. My father is self-employed and was always working when I was growing up. He was only there financially and was absent from many birthdays, school performances, and other things you’d expect a father to be at. We never played catch as a kid. One of my earliest memories as a child was this one time when I just in tears because my dad didn’t show up to something and he was also yelling at me to stop crying and to control my emotions, which just made me feel worse. I ended up making a promise to myself that if I ever had kids, I’d want to be the dad that I never had. (Disclaimer: I don’t plan on having kids anytime soon, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve never thought about it without having a huge smile. I actually used to joke about being a stay-at-home dad, but I think it might actually be a lot of fun, especially if you’ve seen me with kids.)
On the brightside, my mom was the opposite and she provided me more than enough love to make up for my lack of a father-figure. To be honest, it has at many times felt like it was way too much and was smothering me, but I’ve learned to deal with it because she’s honestly not going to be around forever. (A bit dark? Yes. Necessary? Also yes, because I believe that it is something that everyone should realize and this is why you should start appreciating the time with your loved ones now. (Today is probably the best day to do it, by the way!) It was also remembering this feeling of being loved that also made me believe in God again when I was going rough time transferring schools. I can honestly say that facing the reality of death inspired me to truly start living a life that I wanted to live.
TL; DR: If you don’t have your core values, then you don’t really have anything. (My highest core value is family.)