What I Wish I Knew: A Response to Tiger Mom

Throwback: Edward speaks at an Asian American conference in Florida

“Is it possible that there is more to life than this?” That question would haunt me for most of my life. You see, I had been convinced that the secret to living a happy life was becoming a doctor (or lawyer, or whatever gives you the most prestige, power or money).

Growing up, I mastered the whole achievement thing. That elusive hope every Asian parent ingrains in their child. It just so happened that my story turned out better than what any Tiger mom could possibly hope for. I was the co-captain of the high school chess club. I skipped prom to study for the AP Biology exam. I graduated valedictorian of my class. Went to an Ivy League college. Worked for the President of the United States. Led a social media movement inspiring the next generation to “do good”. Became a millionaire before I turned 30.

Okay, the last one’s not true. But the point is this: I achieved what you’d call the (Asian) American dream. Yet, here’s the thing most Tiger mom’s will never tell you — something I learned the hard way: the pot at the end of the rainbow is empty.

I bought into this belief that reaching these pinnacles of success would satisfy my inner hunger. As a member of the millennial generation, I even bought into this mentality that doing enough good in the world would fill me with a sense of validation, and even purpose. It has not been for me. Instead, the pursuit of these things left me in an even darker place. I got to the end of the road, and felt more empty than ever before. I fell into depression that lasted close to 10 years.

Don’t get me wrong: these achievements are not bad. In fact, they are good. But what stole my joy is when the pursuit of “good” took me away from my pursuit in the only one thing that could truly satisfy us. It took me away from God.

If this is where you’re at right now, I would love to start sharing more about the teaching that spoke to me during this season, called #GoodorGod by John Bevere. It’s a valuable lesson I wish I had not ignored when I was still in your shoes: wide eyed, bushy tail, ready to take on high school, or college, or even the young adult world. But having spent the last couple years travailing through this struggle, and tasting breakthrough, I feel more compelled than ever before to share my journey with you. #moretocome