Saturday, November 22, 2014


Not too long ago, I saw an interview with Rashida Jones where she stated that in her teens, she wanted to be around people she thought were cool, in her twenties, she wanted to be around people she thought were smart and in her thirties, it’s been about wanting to around people with heart. Even though I just turned 28, I’m beginning to see how the part about wanting to be around people with “heart” is so true, at least for me, anyway. But, I do think I am lacking in kindness and empathy myself. Growing up in a household where “tough love” and “stoicism” were signs of strength, I find it difficult to express myself emotionally at times. I mostly feel that I’m too concerned with being “smart” or “clever” when I really should just work on my empathy and being a little more earnest.

For the past few months, I have been feeling pretty down on myself about being lost about my career choices, but I haven't been acting in any sort of way that would make it apparent to most people. The people who know me best, however, can see I'm somewhat affected. My mother has been pretty much at a loss on how to treat me during this time, so she mostly avoids me. My friends and sister have tried to be helpful by giving me advice and direction. With these polarizing responses, I constantly felt unsure about how to be normal/OK again.

A week following my 28th birthday, my dad took Thao, his girlfriend and I out to dinner to celebrate. During dinner, he asked me how I was doing. I have a strained relationship with my dad, so under normal circumstances, I would have just lied and said “fine” and tried my best to steer the conversation away from anything personal and talk about how the Falcons are doing instead. This time, for some reason, I decided to be honest and replied, “Not that well.” He patted my back and told me it was OK. It was simple enough response, but the sincerity and kindness in his voice and gesture was so overwhelming, I found myself unable to speak. I just nodded and tried to smile. 

It takes so much more to try to be “clever,” but the effect is short-lived. Kindness, on the other hand, can be a simple act and it will leave such a lasting impression. In that moment, after years of feeling one way about my dad, I suddenly felt differently. I will always admire and respect people like my mom for being hard workers with keen minds, but now, I also admire my dad and others like him, for their heart. I can’t say the brief exchange has fixed everything, but I feel a lot better than before.