It’s such an overused cliché at this point, (I mean seriously, there’s been a movie (spelled happyness, not happiness, albeit), a song, an ample number of books, and an enduring declaration of independence by this country) but it works for me! As I tried to write this essay, I dug deeper and deeper into my life and I genuinely tried to determine what intrinsic motivation I had for every action I take, and for every roadblock I hit when I kept asking myself “why?”, the only answer I could think of was my happiness.
My dad came to this country in 1976 with 8 dollars in his pocket, sent on an international flight by his older brothers (as his strict and successful father had passed away), and being the last of 8 children (these numbers are totally coincidental, I assure you) and the second of all of them to emigrate to America, he had only one place to go: his brother’s flat in the Bronx. He’d go on to spend two years there, working tedious jobs as a janitor at McDonalds (he once threw up at the smell of French fries), and a security guard for some rich community, all the while trying to get in to ANY masters in engineering program in New York that would take a foreign graduate working the nightshift at the local burger joint. Same goes for my mom, who emigrated as a doctor, but had to spend years doing clinical lab work just to get the sufficient connections and work experience to earn a spot at an American hospital as a resident. To this day, she tells the “horror stories” of taking orders from very rude/xenophobic youngsters who barely had a high school degree and truly had only a fraction’s worth of her knowledge in the field. But now? My dad stands as a proud Electrical Engineer for the California Transportation Department, and my mom an owner of her own practice as a Rheumatologist in Fountain Valley, CA. My parents’ arduous battle against the odds as first generation Indians in this country has taught me so much about having the motivation to recognize what you want in this world and having the fortitude and determination to keep after it. The trial and tribulations of their past remind me on a daily basis of how trivial my problems sometimes are, and yet in the same light it keeps me motivated to ensure that I don’t waste any opportunity I get to go where I want to go.
My parents never shoved their expectations and philosophies down my throat as a child (contrary to the popular image of the “standard” Indian parents), but they did, and still do, impart one major one: do what makes you happy and do it big. So I do. And I always will. Sure, there’s always going to a couple slip ups along the way, but what is life if you don’t learn from those moments and seize the next opportunity to do it right, to do it big?
“I’m on the pursuit of happiness, and I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold. I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good.”