On Celebrating & Appreciating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

On Celebrating & Appreciating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

The month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! The history of this appreciation month dates back to 1978 when U.S. Congress passed a resolution to celebrate the culture for a week. Like other cultural appreciation weeks, they later extended it to a full month.

Many Asian Americans have insecurity, shame, or hidden disgrace when it comes to their race because they perceive it to be lower status in American culture. We have to stop doing this and stop shooting ourselves in the foot with self-pity and defeatism. This month is a great month to do so. My mother has been a strong supporter of feeling proud of your ancestry. 13 years ago, I competed in a state-wide history project presentation. Hundreds of three-board poster boards filled up the the cafeteria and gymnasium that the competition was housed in.

But I stood out like a red lantern. Literally.

She kept within the laws of the contest but had me build a giant red lantern that hung from the ceiling instead of poster board. I was the only red lantern and non-poster board presentation as far as the eye could see. I still have pictures of the lantern right before I threw it out a couple years ago:

I didn’t win the competition or get close, but it was a fantastic experience. I still remember being insecure and shy, probably because I was scared of being ostracized for being different. Looking back, I should have been more proud of the innovation and pride my mother instilled. This month, I have and will be releasing epic Asian-themed content, some with big influencers in the space.

Most recently, I interviewed Kevin Kreider, social media influencer, model, TED speaker, and fitness coach on Asian masculinity. Check it out here.

His main message is to empower yourselves, do something positive, improve your life, follow your passions and improve your value and skills, be proud of who you are, and address the negative self-talk and self-image you have.

Some parting tips:

Succeeding is not about just finding and completing some checklist. You can have all the right ingredients and directions, but the world is more complicated than simply having the right information and doing it. For technical people, like scientists or engineers, this can be hard to swallow or understand.

You can follow all the instructions on how to get a six-pack or a 15-inch biceps but fail because you give up. This could be for a variety of deeper psychological reasons: You don’t want to look like a jock. You hate working out. Your father made fun of you as a child when you worked out as a kid.

An interesting podcast called the Mating Grounds explored this. They have a series where they help a guy called Joe every week. Joe was average in almost every way. He never had any deep traumatic events. Despite many of the other listeners instantly getting results from the dating advice that the show gave, Joe still had trouble. They unearthed that he had deep negative self-talk and self-image issues. His life was a representation of his inner world: his room was excessively messy, he always talked down to himself, and he talked down to himself with girls.

Fixing Joe was always more an issue of fixing mindsets and psychology rather than teaching him techniques. Personal finance author and famous blogger Ramit Sethi has a very similar philosophy when he talked about career development. He has a course called Dream Job that I joined. A good portion of the course was emphasizing the deep psychology and hidden limiting beliefs that hold you back.

He voiced how it was unlike his other courses because you were just told techniques and instructions. It works for other topics because some skills are simpler. If it was easy, everyone would already be successful. For career progressing and transitioning, you could potentially have dozens of hidden beliefs and mind blocks that you must unearth. Ramit says that all the techniques in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have the right mindset first.

A few of the common beliefs, often created by childhood or assumptions, include: “I’m too old to get this job, I’m not qualified, I don’t have enough experience, I’m not the right gender, I’m not the right ethnicity, I’m too young, I don’t have connections, I can’t transition at my stage, there’s no other options, I’m not in the right city, no one wants to meet with me, I have no applicable skills, and it’s my parents fault.”

Identifying and unearthing those are tough, tough work. It’s difficult. I’m having a tough time identifying and fixing these things myself. One thing I have found that might help is to get successful people who you admire or trust to point out flawed beliefs. Another great way is getting friends who you admire and trust to be brutally honest about your beliefs.

Nowadays, lack of information is never the problem. It’s out there for free. This was not always the case. 100 years ago, a book was a prized possession that represented decades of research and quality information. It was only available to the rich who could afford such a treasure. The world is moving to a place of curation and solving deeper problems instead.

Happy Asian Appreciation Month,

-Will Chou

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