JOSEPH HOANG —
RISE OVER RUN
A | LORENZO COLOCADO | PROJECT
Whenever people ask my biggest regret I always jokingly respond “Being older than 10”. At 10, the world was your playground and you it’s master- slowly add the years and it seems like the world becomes your master.
At times I find myself plagued by this idea of fitting into a mould of success; the kind that can be shown on a CV or in what kind of job you have or how many figures is on your pay check. I constantly find myself comparing my own accomplishments to the successes of my family, friends and those around me and have this overwhelming sense of incompetence. Being good enough, or rather being enough at all is something I find myself struggling with. Whenever I try to be this perfect image and fulfill expectations of others it leads me down a road of self doubt and unhappiness.
I think that the hardest part wasn’t what my friends and others thought of me, but rather the disappointment of my parents. Like many of my friends and many young adults, my parents had expectations and hopes and dreams for me. Being the oldest child and being a first generation Canadian, it felt like I was pressured to be this successful person. After all, my parents gave everything they had for me and my sisters to have a better life. I was honestly scared to disappoint them — knowing that they worked day and night, factory jobs, delivery jobs, labor jobs just to have enough for us to have this path of societal success.
Technically, I did run away from my struggle. It was like a life vomit of everything I had tried to avoid — finishing first year at U of T and still unclear of what I wanted to do, just meeting Joey, this grey area of identity, my dad’s health.
People come into your life for a reason and for me Joey was a blessing. He’s this special soul that really inspired me to live. I can still replay that night in my head, not my coming out, but rather telling my parents I’d drop out and I’m about to endure what started off as a 3 week backpacking trip to Asia and ended up being 15 weeks.
Throughout my adventures, I realized there’s always going to be someone faster, someone taller, someone stronger, someone better.
It’s about being happy with yourself despite the pressures around you.
It’s about celebrating the small successes and knowing that there’s always a taller mountain to summit. It’s important to know your roots and where you came from, but also looking forward to where you want to be. It’s going to sound so cheesy but I learned that there is so much out there besides what kind of job you have or the degree you hold. The amount of adventures and life I’ve experienced and above all, how much I’ve grown is a lot more than what a textbook can teach.
Through my run, I found my rise. I reclaimed my own narrative.
(side note: I’m not saying don’t go to school, I’m in school now but everyone has their own path of discovery and mine just didn’t include it at that time frame)
I started putting myself first and started drawing my own life plan instead of following the ideals of others. Taking this path of “selfishness” wasn’t the easiest. I had to learn to accept myself for who I am, despite my shortcomings to others. Foremost, I forgave myself for “not being good enough”. Removing self doubt led me down a road of love and acceptance. I looked at my own potential and my own radiance. It doesn’t happen overnight but the difference is monumental if you compared who I was then to who I am now. I started recognizing who was staring back at me in the mirror. I find myself more confident with who I am and the choices I make. My relationships became more honest and authentic — with my boyfriend, my family, friends, and most importantly myself.
Today, my parents and I have a stronger relationship. Although there is still this generational / cultural gap, they’ve continually supported me and accept the road I’ve chosen. I still strive on this road of discovery to make myself happy, but also to make them proud of the son they have. I don’t tell them enough how thankful I am for everything they’ve done. I know that not everyone has the opportunities I have.
In one trip to Vietnam, a backpacker who was into the stars and fate and tarots asked for my birthday (you may be rolling eyes over this but I promise the overall lesson is pretty rad). I told her December 22nd and to my surprise she got overly excited and began her talk. It’s a powerful date apparently; celestially, it’s the day after the winter solstice, the beginning of the end to our dark days. A reminder that in any darkness there’s always light and sometimes it’s only in the darkest of nights that the stars shine brightest.
Do you remember being in like grade three and doing a presentation on what you wanted to be when you grew up and it seemed so easy back then?
When I get asked today I wonder if I can answer “I don’t know” without it being almost taboo and looked down upon. Isn’t not knowing half the fun? Life is all about not knowing. It’s not knowing that allows you to open unknown doors and walk down new streets — trying new things, taking new heights and pushing yourself to the edge of comfort.
So what am I doing with my life? *cue Beyoncé’s Pretty Hurts “to be happy”.* Actually though…I don’t know about the future, but right now I’m on an adventure to find the answer. I’ll write a new entry when I do.
Rise Over Run is a visual project — an anthology of stories and experiences about how people overcome their greatest personal struggles.
send me an email: email@example.com