The Asian Dream (No, not the American Dream )

WARNING, read this with a pinch of salt.

In order to talk about what is the Asian dream, we need to talk about our fears first.


No, it’s not the spiders or your nasty cockroaches and while we might be scared of Sadako coming out of the TV from “Ring”, there is something even worse than those, we fear something invisible but powerful; Asians have a fear of failing, we really do, look around you, tell me one Asian kid that have not been reprimanded or punish when we flunk our tests. We fear the lecture that we will get, getting hit on our heads, the shame that we will put on our family name. (Okay, maybe a little far-fetched, but you know where I’m getting at)


Every Asian would know when I say that we are the (for a lack of a better word) group of humans that are constantly put under pressure by our parents since we are young. In Singapore alone, we are being put to the chopping block many times, once at 10 years old (Primary 4 Streaming or as it is known now; Subject-based banding), one more at 12 (PSLE) and another at 14 (Secondary 2 Streaming). I personally came from the normal technical stream so I didn’t have to go through this, we had other forms of pressure (Let’s leave that for another article). This goes on throughout our educational life, the immense pressure to Succeed and be the top of your class.


Being born into an Asian Family, you would definitely remember this, “ah boy/ah girl (Insert your own slang of how your parents call you here), Next time when you grow up, you must be a lawyer, engineer or doctor, okay?” (There is absolutely so much respect that I give this group, not because my mama say so, but because they have studied more than I have and made it). The truth is, no one will ever tell me to be a towkay or go be your own boss and when you try to tell your relatives that you started your own business, they will start asking, can survive or not? They start being the all-knowing uncle and aunty that have done so much in their life (The Chinese have a saying “I eat salt more than you eat rice”). While their concern is valid, your dreams are valid too.


So by becoming an entrepreneur in an Asian Country, you will definitely get frowns from your parents and relatives. I know because I have been there. They will ask, “So when are you going to Uni?”, “Why not get a real job that pays well, you gotta save for your HDB Flat you know?”, “When are you going to start being serious with your life”. It’s not just the “So when are you getting a Girlfriend or Boyfriend?” question that you have to be scared during Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali or Christmas.


BUT, your inner voice keeps telling you to start that business that you have been thinking about, keeping you wide awake into the night. My take is, go and do it, experience what it feels like to build a business from the ground up. If there is anything more important than education, it would be experience; because that would be your foundation of what’s to come.

If you fail. Try, try, try again. I went from building a photobooth business, startups that failed, working for a startup, SME, MNC and also the public sector. Each one of these gave me the experiences I have today. This is something that not even your parents can teach you. (or your uncle or aunty)


Show your parents that you have more substance, grit and perseverance than they thought. Show them that, yes while you would like to get a job, my dream is to ultimately put that idea into action. Heck, you just have to prove to yourself that you have what it takes.

BUT, huge but, there will be times when your business have really not been moving forward or growing and that is when you really need to discern when to pause, take a step back, relook and restart. It’s okay to go back to other square 1’s. No one said that you can’t. Who knows, that step back might propel you further.


Don’t be that “If only… “ person, 40 years down the road, be the one to look back and say “Wow, I have been through so much. “ and not “If only I had jump on that idea of mine” because the truth is jobs will always be there, schools will always be there, but opportunities will never always be there.

And while conformity seems safe and might give you a good life, I dare you to create your own Asian Dream.

What will your Asian Dream Be?

The best way to succeed is to keep practising, just like how you would revise your studies to get good grades, the best way to create your Asian Dream is to do it and not be afraid to fail.

Because in order to win a war, you train in the dojo and not the battlefield.

So what are you waiting for?

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