“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” Albert Einstein’s words say a lot about this society. Well, we do call the man brilliant for a reason. He speaks the truth, especially in the world of Asians/Asian-Americans.
It’s true that a major factor of being raised an Asian household is to not only get good grades, but to receive the top scores. However, being book-smart, being able to regurgitate from a textbook does not ensure your success in the future. Life isn’t about what comes out of a book. There is no cheat sheet to finding your passion and taking risks to achieve your dream.
Psychologists have argued that it is important for you to de-focus as it allows the mind to truly think creatively with clarity. And this is where the problem lies. Studying so hard inevitably gets in the way of other things, such as a social life. There is no real time to deactivate from your focused intelligence. How can one think creatively that way? Even more so, how can you truly find and experience what it is you love in life without being able to release….or rebel?
I only say rebel because that comes from my experience. I would have never discovered my love of music or writing if I hadn’t taken my nose out of those books and snuck out to those concerts, b-boy battles, street races…you get the idea (sorry, Mom!). I could have the best writing education in the world. What is it worth if I don’t have a story to tell?
And in today’s society, I would be considered a highly-educated person (degrees stacked up on them walls!), but the truth of the matter is I did that for my parents. My love of hip hop and writing did not require the extent of schooling that I went through. My knowledge of textbooks did nothing to help me in the industry I so desired to be a part of.
Despite all the opportunities in my journey, Einstein’s words hold a lot of weight. I do find times that my education does hinder me from a kinship with others. I work in a world where experience speaks louder than schooling. It’s about your grind, not your resume. And because I formerly lived in a world of academia, there are moments I get too technical with details and people look at me sideways, not because they’re not intelligent but because it isn’t necessary. Yet, and this is hard for me to admit, a small voice in the back of my mind is glad that I got those degrees just in case my dream (gasp!) didn’t come true. However, I know that I am not alone.
The fear may not be there for some. However, in many cases, including Quest Crew member Victor Kim, getting a college degree is something to obtain for your parents. Singer, Joseph Vincent, graduated this past semester and now, signed to Catch Adventures, he will pursue his career as a singer. Let’s face it – that piece of paper will always be there.
“Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”, an article published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, created quite a stir, but would it have done so if there wasn’t any truth to it? Yes, it’s a stereotype, but many Asian kids are known to study hard, get those grades, and follow their parents’ wishes. WSJ states, “A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.” But I have to wonder what exactly they mean by “successful”. Does that mean they have good jobs?
Because my definition of success is different – it means living out a dream and being truly happy in a career they chose. This leads me to question, and maybe even challenge, if pushing kids towards a particular path is truly the right thing, especially when it happens to an insatiable music lover who would rather not be an engineer or a talented dancer whose preference is not to live in the suit-and-tie world.
But does our education hinder that? After all our “gold stars” and “straight-A’s”, does it make us feel fearful to make a mistake, take a risk, or chase an opportunity where the outcome is unknown?
What is the underlying fear that makes some of us not even take that risk? Disappointing people? Because the only one who has to live with our mistakes is us. And I’d rather know I took that chance to live my dream than play it safe and never try.
Examples of people following their dreams
Facebook Game by Peter J. Su : Venture Capitalist turns Singer/Songwriter