Who is Ms. Model Minority?
I am a first-generation Chinese-American in my 30’s on a journey to find my own version of the American Dream.
In many ways, I am quite your typical Asian American model minority. My qualifications:
I’m quite proud of all these things and forever grateful to my parents for immigrating to the US and giving me the opportunity to succeed. Because of my education and resources, I now have a choice in deciding how I want to live. I am extremely lucky. Most people in the world never get that choice.
But because I have that choice, I also have come to recognize that my parents version of the American dream is only one path, and an often narrow and limiting one at that. I was taught that the path to happiness was family, duty, and a solid paycheck. I was told that success looked like an ivy league degree, a husband + 2.5 kids in a big house, weekly church attendance, and a Mercedes Benz to drive my parents around in.
However as I entered my early 20’s in fast pursuit of the model minority life, I realized there was something wrong. My job as an investment banking analyst paid extremely well, but the 60-70 hour work weeks were sucking away my soul. My boyfriend was a sweet church-going guy with a solid career who passed the parents approval test, but there was something deeply unsatisfying about our relationship. And I felt sorely out of place amongst my Asian American community, who seemed at ease in their duty and compliance.
In the following years, I gradually (and sometimes dramatically) came to realize that I have the freedom to define my life as I choose. Now I don’t believe my path is any better or worse than someone else’s. But I do believe that it is far better to choose your own path in life, whatever it may be.
- I came out as a gay woman, and I am now married to the love of my life with whom I plan to start a family soon.
- I took a yearlong sabbatical to travel around the world with my wife, and we hope to do this again in an even bigger way.
- I am aggressively pursuing financial independence so that I have the freedom to pursue my own version of the American dream without being held down by a 9-5.
- I am learning that growth and contribution leads to true fulfillment, and I’ve committed myself to pursuing these things with all the same ambition that I used to pursue a model minority life.
What this blog is about:
- Achieve financial independence by age 40 (I’m 33 now): To me, freedom is about having the flexibility to choose how I spend my time. My goal is to build up enough of a nest egg by age 40 to generate an annual income that is greater than my annual expenses. This doesn’t mean I don’t intend to ever have a job after age 40. But it does mean I’ll have the freedom not to.
- Take the family on an yearlong worldwide trip every 5 years (next one is in 2017): Life is too short to delay adventure. My sabbatical with my wife (then girlfriend) in 2012 brought us so much closer together and gave us the confidence to get married. Breaks like this give you a chance for new perspectives that can change the course of your life. The more practical route would be to keep working until I’ve socked away enough money to call it quits completely. But in my view, there’s just too much risk – unexpected health issues, family obligations, getting sucked into climbing the career ladder, plain old inertia – any of these could ruin your attempt at adventure, and I’m willing to delay FI for periodic breaks.
- Find ways (big and small) to contribute to others: The path to happiness is through giving. As Gandhi once said said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I believe this wholeheartedly, but I’ve come to realize that giving as a lifestyle requires my conscious intention just like saving money or eating healthy. This blog documents my attempts to give more and to give better.
- Keep growing in every aspect of my life and have fun doing it!: Life is an experiment, and I intend to try everything, learn from it, and get better at living. I won’t say that achievement doesn’t matter. But my goal isn’t to achieve to be happy; rather, it is to achieve happily. Read along as I attempt to hike the top 20 treks in the world, learn to play guitar, build a backyard vegetable garden and whatever other random goals I set for myself along the way – all in the spirit of growth.
There’s some amazing blogs out there and I follow a lot of them, but I could never find one that was a total fit. Early retirement and FI blogs show how to escape the rat race by spending and saving carefully, but don’t discuss how to enjoy the present while doing it. Lifestyle design blogs teach how to maximize your life now (in minimum time), but they’re mostly authored by 20-something single men that I just can’t identify with. The minimalist zen blogs talk about simplifying and just being, but I still have too many personal goals that I want to achieve.
In this blog, I hope to cover the intersection of these three areas – financial freedom, lifestyle design, and enjoying the moment – all from the perspective of a reforming model minority.