As the Nike saying goes, “Just Do It.” That quote became my life motto as I took on a journey of rebellion. If you asked my parents to describe me, they would say, weird and rebellious. If you asked me to describe my family, I would say, normal and safe. We are an Asian Hmong family that lies in the middle of tradition and modern Americanization. My mom encouraged me to pursue education completely but also wanted me to learn all the duties of a “good” daughter. Though I was never raised to wake up early to clean the house, cook, and be a care taker, as I got older, my mom stressed the importance of knowing how to do these things. It was the golden ticket to being a good wife for my future Hmong husband and mother-in-law.
But, I couldn’t picture my life in the role laid out for me. There was a big expectation to be perfect and obedient. For so long, I listened to other’s expectations of me, but then it hit me. I needed to make my own decisions for once and take control of my life. During sophomore year of high school, I made the first decision to go against my parent’s wishes. They were not going to be here forever to tell me what to do or provide for me. So, even though they disagreed with many of my decisions since then, I pursued them anyways, because I knew in my heart it was my journey to find true belonging. I knew they would support me once they saw the positive impacts.
My first rebellious move at 16: Playing football
My mom completely disagreed with my decision. She lectured on how it was a waste of time and that I would break my leg or arms. During the five years of playing, my aunt constantly told me how dark I was for baking in the sun and compared my muscular build to a man. But, I kept playing until my time was done. My family always told me I was selfish and said I put football first before them. I felt the drift, but I couldn’t make them understand how desperate I wanted to excel at something, to feel valuable, and belong to a friend group. I was 16 and searching for my purpose. Despite all the soreness, pale ankle tans, and guilt trips from my family, football allowed me to work on a skill for the first time in my life, and as I kept playing I gained more confidence; an experience I can never replace.
Next rebellious move at 19: Moving into a dorm
My mama forbid it before I attended college, but campus life sparked curiosity and was an opportunity for independence. During sophomore year, I took out loans and registered to live on campus. My mom surprisingly took it well when I told her. You never know how your parents would actually react when you take the chance to act on your wants and desires. Living on campus, I joined cheer and stepped into a leadership role as a mentor to freshman students. It was an activation year for me. But, it was a rough year, starving sometimes, broke, and car-less, but the experience made me appreciate my mom’s home cooking and my family so much more. Living away from home actually brought me closer to my younger sister and mom. My sister and I are weirdly close and if not for this experience, the “aha” moment to step up and be a big sister would have never happened.
Next rebellious move at 19: Dating a black guy
The most taboo thing to do in the Hmong elders’ eyes. Of course my parents wanted me to be with a Hmong man, but hey, America is a place of exploration and opportunities. I am grateful to be on this soil and in this life. The two in a half years with this boyfriend of mine was like a mountainous roller coaster. It was the best and worst relationship I ever had. Though he was not the guy for me, and my family were 95% right about him, disregarding the race factor, I learned many things through the experience. I learned about real love, forgiveness, living in the moment, and being my true self. After reflecting on my relationship, my perspective on people widened and I felt more confident about myself.
Next rebellious move at 20: Traveling to Madison for a fashion show competition
My mom honestly swore to me these people were going to KIDNAP me. She literally almost convinced me to not go through with it. I almost told the woman who asked me to participate, who is now a good friend of mines, that I wasn’t going to do it, but my soul and heart irked me to follow through. Despite my mom’s wishes, I secretly went to the designer’s house and got my measurements done and she talked me through the whole process. I felt confident and sure it would be a great opportunity. When I told my mom, she of course was mad, but allowed me to go. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I met some wonderful and talented people that I still connect with and it was my start to a modeling career that I’ve enjoyed so much. It was a boost to my confidence and it helped with my stage presence. Best of all, we won first place!
These were some of the moves I took to individualize myself. I took other bold moves like student leading a trip to China to learn about the Hmong/Miao people, traveling to Jamaica for a service trip, and going to Washington D.C for scholarship competition. I took every chance to explore, learn, and push myself to pursue life! I hope my bold and rebellious moves motivates you to pursue the unimaginable.
❤ Wabi Sabi
Wabi Sabi is a passionate writer and performative artist, who wants to utilize her talent to educate, awaken, and inspire you to find your truest, best, positive version of yourself.
She is driven to create works that will inspire us as human beings in this beautiful home we call earth, to be happier, healthier and aunthentic individuals.