My 20-year high school reunion is fast approaching.

I know only because I've gotten several Facebook notifications about it.

I've never been one to fit any label well. I mean, I'm hardly the ideal image of  "suburban mom" now. So you can only imagine how life was as an Asian-American teen in an upper-middle class Midwestern town. Yikes.

I never fell into any group in high school. I'd go out with my girlfriends on Friday nights. But there were no Saturday night dates. I was far from an athlete. I sang in the A Cappella choir but wasn't quite good enough to be part of the theatre group. I was a straight-A student in A.P. classes but I didn't have this natural intellect like most did in the nerdy crowd. I even felt like an outsider in the Asian cultural group as my Filipino traditions seemed so "Western" compared to the others.

I started to wonder what was wrong with me.

And it. was. awful.

This is why I didn't realize my reunion was coming up. I don't talk to many people from high school.

Maybe that's why the #DearMe campaign on YouTube resonated with me so much. I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I knew last year what I know now!

There are three things I would have loved to have told myself back then. Would I have listened? Likely not. But I would have felt encouraged. And that's what I needed most back then.

So now, I can only hope I'm reminding my daughter of these lessons daily. So that she doesn't have to feel as alienated and as alone and as hopeless as I did.

You're going to wish you were skinnier or owned a closet of designer clothes or had more money or were blonde. You're going to try so hard, and each time, it won't work. But guess what. Senior year, you'll chop off all your hair, and you're going to rock it. Why? Because a light bulb will go off when you turn 18 and you'll realize what others think truly does not matter. You're going to find yourself...and she won't be in that tiny little suburb. Just be you!

It's ok not to be the smartest person in class. It's ok to get an Asian F. Because you'll never use derivatives and integrals in real life like you did in Calculus. Because being passed over during the fall play tryouts means finding something bigger and better that will showcase your talents and help you land the career you want. Because with every failure comes strength.

You may be sitting home on a Saturday night. Or you may be out with friends yet still feel so alone. You may wonder why you don't belong. But you're going to learn what - and who - really matter in life. You're going to find love. You're going to find a terrific group of friends. And yes, there will be bumps in the road. And it's going to suck. But even when it feels like the universe is against you, and there's nowhere to go and nothing else left, there is. Be patient with life. Be patient with yourself. Because there is.

What would you tell your younger self?


  1. I had the opposite high school experience...in a way. I didn't fit in with one group, but with many different groups. I was the drama kid, soccer player, choir girl, yearbook staff, Ambassabor, etc, etc, etc. Looking back, I see how great it really was, so I would tell my HS self to enjoy it. I'd also tell my HS self to stop worrying about boys b/c we meet the love of our life the first day of college. And to be clear, just because looking back I see how great HS was, it does not make me want to go to my reunion.

    1. You met your husband the first day of college? That's amazing and cool and wonderful. All the feels!


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