We asked Asian American leaders to share a note to their younger selves about moments that have defined their lives and lessons learned from them. Read on for a reflection from Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Dear younger me —
You don’t know this now, but the nights you stayed up all night singing karaoke in Koreatown will be some of the most important times of your life. Shrimp chips washed down with scotch and ginger ale to blow off steam after a long week of organizing. Singing Fleetwood Mac when you’re playing it safe and Mariah Carey when you’re feeling bolder or like you just don’t care.
Or singing Don’t You Want Me Baby with your besties and switching off roles in the duet until you’re about to lose your voice. And when you finally head across the street for spicy Korean stew until the sun rises and you’re ready to sleep.
That is joy. Joy is the space between the major milestones — the everyday experiences you share with the people you choose — that don’t seem that big or significant in the moment.
They are significant. The experience of joy is what makes being human so unique and precious. It helps make the rest of it — especially the hard parts — worth it.
Love the older me,
Read more notes to younger selves from leaders: