all my friends are academics

the foxes as things i/people i know have said/done

Neil:
girl: “what’s your number?”
me:“3”

also: my best friend has an album on her phone of pics of me flipping her off called “beautiful but rude-iful” and that’s some neil/matt shit right there

Andrew:
kept loading chocolate of various kinds into the shopping cart while staring my athlete friend dead in the eye, daring them to stop me, the entire time

also: kids were trying to sneak from room A to room B without being noticed by authorities and failed and i just leisurely strolled there (while texting) and no one stopped me

Kevin:
sat next to my friend while they edited all of my swearing out of an academic google docs document that our teacher also had access to

also: went on a twenty minute rant how much i wanted to kill the person who burned down the library of alexandria at two a.m.

Aaron:
ignored my friend’s texts for about a week straight because they wouldn’t stop asking about my love life and i think they legit thought i was dead

also: my friend listened to my rant about the library of alexandria and the only thing they said after my detailed murder plan was “okay, i hear you, but, like, you do know that person’s definitely dead already, right?”

Nicky:
our history teacher: “it’s national coming out day so if someone wants to…”
friend: *stands up* “i want to say-” teacher, so tired: “yeah, you’re gay, we know, please sit down”

also: sucessfully broke up a fight between two siblings by saying “but guys here’s ice cream”

Renee:
i convinced some random woman in her sixties that i met at the hairdresser’s to dye her hair either blue or pink or rainbow because “do it while you’re still young” and “why would you care what society thinks of you” and “do it while you still can” and whatnot

also: a certain follow-up of events led me to spending most of the school day with hands covered in both blood and glitter and whenever someone asked the only explanation i offered was “aesthetic”

Allison:
i threw a euro coin at my friend’s head from the other side of a big table with stupid accuracy to get them to shut up

also: friend 1:“i will literally pay you to take this exam in my name”
friend 2: “i don’t even take that subject, i know nothing about it”
friend 1:“i know, it’s fine, i don’t need a good grade, my average can take it, but "i” need to show up and it’s really early"

Dan:
actually made a boy cry once because i was better than him at something he bragged about being good at

also: friend 1:“how was your day?” friend 2:“i saw only 2 white teen boys today but a total of 4 dogs so i think we can conclude today was a good day”

Matt:
went on a good five-minute heated rant about how precious and glorious a person my best friend is to someone who insulted her, meanwhile she probably wanted to die the entire time

also: hit my head on a “caution! low ceiling” sign once

I just had the weirdest thought.

So, in academia, who trained you is really important (this makes sense, because no matter how smart you are, if you are taught a ginromous doofus, it will impair your education especially when your education functions on, essentially, the apprenticeship system, which it does). 

If you’ve ever been to a lecture with a guest speaker you probably remember that they were introduced like this “Professor did their Ph.D. with Supervisor, etc etc). This is called an academic pedigree and we treat it like one, you can even find websites which trace the academic ‘family tree’ of people. So your supervisor is like your academia-dad (or academia-mom)

Well, this isn’t just a formality for introductions. My Dad’s a prof*, so all through my childhood he and his prof friends would hang out (academics all hang out with each other, they don’t have time to meet anyone else) and they’d say ‘Oh I ran into so-and-so at that conference, have you met them they’re such-and-such’s student’, like, this is actually how we talk about each other.

And it just occurred to me, that the closest outside equivalent of this is, like, fantasy naming “This is Thor, son of Odin”

*This makes this extra bonus goofy for me because my Dad’s academic reputation (which wouldn’t show up in my formal, written academic pedigree) is known to people, so I get introduced and known as both “this is dendritic-trees she’s [Supervisor]’s student” and as “this is dendritic-trees, she’s [Dad]’s daughter.

@betterbemeta I just have a feeling you’ll be interested in this for some reason.

Vietnamese American in South California

After stumbling upon this blog more or less by accident but very welcomed, I figured it would be a good idea to browse around as I myself do try to write recreatively every so often. I’ve gone through maybe the first ten profiles, I figured I may as well do one myself.

A little of background, the place where I live is known to have one of the largest Vietnamese population in the country. You can find all sorts of different Asian food/markets/stores/etc just walking down the street. My high school where I’m a junior is predominantly Asian and Hispanic. Both my parents were born in Vietnam and came over around the time of the Vietnam War. My siblings and I, on the other hand, were both born and raised in America. I myself am still adjusting to the whole poc thing after having grown up with the average american culture on media.

Beauty Standards

Of course everyone has their own opinions, but I find that the saying “the grass is greener on the other side” to be very true to the way I think. As a nearly year round swimmer, my skin can get pretty darned tan pretty fast. I always liked whiter skin that wasn’t too white for myself but I recognize beauty in many shades. As for the rest of the body, I’ve always admired taller and slim figures for both females and males, being a nearly ridiculously skinny and short person for most of my life, but again, recognizing beauty in other shapes.

Maybe this part isn’t specifically related to my beauty standards but it does have to do with my appearance. I’ve been out in the sun for a long while now. As a kid, way before all this technology stuff came along, I was playing outside with my younger brother before I was going to school. I was in the pool every summer and began learning how to properly swim since about the summer after fifth grade (10/11 years old). I’ve been swimming on my high school team for three years now. Bottom line: I’m in a constant state of tan. It doesn’t bother me that much that I range from potato tan to dirt brown tan. However, people have been confusing me for non Vietnamese, while it is a little amusing to watch them guess, why does it matter? Vietnamese is just another label. Why not appreciate my skin color for the color it is? Seems to work for eyes pretty well regardless of whether the person is German or Korean or Brazilian or whatever.

Clothing

In terms of american vs viet dress, I’ve always worn more american clothing. It’s a lot easier to find in good quantity and quality; many of the traditional Vietnamese ao dai dresses begin very flimsy. I have no problem with wearing traditional Viet but the main issue is that the only time i really do is for new year celebration which is usually late january-february, aka pretty cool, aka not the same tropical weather Vietnam normally has, for which ao dais were designed.

Dating and Relationships

I’m not big on dating. Never have and I don’t see myself being so for a while. Nonetheless, it doesn’t change the fact that my dad is a stickler for a sort of traditional setup where I end up with a respectable Vietnamese male. My mom, however, is a lot less restrictive, or she’s kept quiet about her expectations; I don’t exactly keep my relationship status and opinions on such a secret. As for friends, both my parents prefer people that are respectable and asian. They have to meet a certain criteria or else I start hearing something about my friends. Personally, my circle of close friends is largely based on the connection and experiences we’ve had with each other.

Food

One of my favorite topics. Once upon a time, I was a picky, slow eater. Nowadays, I’m pretty open to what I’ll stomach. In terms of what I normally eat, it’s almost always home cooked for health reasons, but mainly Vietnamese based. I’m used to this diet, but I was rather shocked when I found out a former classmate had never eaten fast food until almost high school and a current friend of mine eats out nearly every weekend with her family; too each his own. Nearly every meal I have will have rice or rice noodles. Traditionally, that’s what constituted most dishes. Some popular dishes: pho (chicken/beef noodle soup), fried rice with mixed vegetables/meat/cilantro/green onion, spring rolls (noodles, greens, meats, and some other stuff wrapped in rice wrappers), egg rolls (more or less the same as spring rolls without the greens and fried). Of course, if you go into a Vietnamese/Asian restaurant, you’ll have a heckuva lot more variety. Sometimes, my mom or dad will whip up something different. Normally, dad does a stew sort of thing. I’m pretty sure the recipes vary or are a family bc I’ve almost never seen the same stew in a restaurant. Mom will either go for another viet dish we normally don’t eat or something less Asian like pasta. However, when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we go for the traditional turkey with potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, corn, etc.

Holidays (yayyyy)

I’m pretty sure it varies by family, but there are very few holidays that my family will actually celebrate. From the previous section, there’s Thanksgiving, and as Roman Catholics, there’s also Christmas, which we smush together with (Jan 1st) New Year’s, and Easter. For birthdays, there’s a lot of us so we’ll throw one celebration for one bunch of people (ex: I’m mid september like my aunt and two cousins, so all four birthdays will be celebrated at once although each of us is actually a different day) unless the immediate family decides to have another celebration. The only other major holiday we celebrate is tet, or lunar new year, whatever. We celebrate with traditional tet and Vietnamese food and red envelopes of money (which when initially introduced to one of my English teachers, she thought the kids were presenting the money to the adults, hahaha). Out of the monthly american holidays, I feel that we mainly use the more significant ones, like mother’s and father’s day, as reasons to get the whole family together, something getting rarer with the growing children (the young generation ranges from the oldest who’s already 23ish to the youngest who’s a little over a year old).

Language

As the children of first generation parents, I and many of my siblings and cousins first spoke Vietnamese before learning English at various points in our childhood. I started sometime around kindergarten (5/6 year old) but one of my younger cousin, a 3 year old, is already picking up on conversational English. As I became more immersed in the English language, I stopped speaking Vietnamese although I could still understand most of the adult table conversations at parties or when addressed to me directly. When I first got into high school, I wanted to take Vietnamese as my foreign language because I wanted to reconnect to my native language. My mom argued against it, saying that I could learn at home instead. Despite that, I’ve started picking it up again and speak Viet much more often compared to a few years ago.

Misconceptions

Because of the high concentration of other Asians, especially Viets, where I live, I feel that I don’t have to deal with many misconceptions in person, being an introvert also helps with that. 

Still, I would like to take the opportunity to address some common stereotypes and misconceptions. 

First, the smart Asian.

(Unless otherwise specified, assume that the people I refer to here are Asian.)

 Despite being at the top of class and sincerely enjoying and doing well in my math and science classes, I don’t flaunt it around friends. I honestly don’t think that I need to smart to have good friends and not all of my friends feel the same way as I do academically. Not all of my friends are as smart I am sometimes. I have a B average friend that made it to the decathlon team and I didn’t. She went on to wearing medals and going to state competition and doing very well there with the rest of the team while I was swimming. I have days where my brain doesn’t work with me and I can’t think straight. I have another friend, B/C average, and she hates history but she managed to score better than me on our benchmark final, not because I scored low, but because she scored high and we had the same teacher, same test. Maybe it’s a fluke but does it matter? It happened. 

On the other hand, there’s another smart guy, top of the class, all AP classes, you know the type. He flaunts his smartness. I don’t talk to him personally, but I’ve heard him refer to the average people, even the above average people as “commoners”. Getting into top 20 of several hundred in our class and being nominated for almost every class he’s taken this year at the awards ceremony was “gg ez”. Just goes to show you that not every smart Asian is the same. Also, some things like smart being the same as nerdy and glasses is 100% not true. 

Hot nerd =/= smart. Smart and nerdy are not mutually inclusive. A few things that really get on my nerves, especially at the latest assembly which was supposed to be focus on academics, ASB had a bunch of people dress up in the stereotypical nerd dress up (white top, glasses, suspenders, etc.) for a “flash mob” dance.

“Asians are bad drivers.” 

Just. WhY???? We have to take the whole driver’s ed thing like everybody else. Some of the Asian people I know are perfectly fine drivers. I’ve seen bad drivers that aren’t Asians. Bad driving is a label earned, not given.

Sexy Asian ladies. 

I’m sorry, but have you taken a good look at the rest of the human population???? Back to my beauty standards, I see beauty everywhere. Even if you can’t, at least understand that humans come in all sorts of shapes, colors, sizes. Not all Asian ladies have white skin and chi*ky eyes with the monolid, big ass boobs, and are skinny as frick. I’m tan as all hell in the summer; I don’t think I have eyes that are that small; I’ve been putting on weight; I don’t have curves. I have other friends that are also tanned, bigger than me, flat and no curves. I have friends that don’t tan, have curves and all that. Why care?

Self Esteem

Another big topic. I haven’t been put down for identifying as Asian american yet and I’m not aware of any of my friends being put down for identifying as whatever it is, but self esteem is not solely based on that. Going to the smart Asian stereotype, yes, I have “Asian parents”. My mom was top of her class in Vietnam, she seems to expect the same from me. I’m not specially honored or anything when I have A average grades when other people would kill for that. Instead, I’m given a “good job, keep your grades like that” and a chewing out when anything drops to a B. 

Sometimes, I will put in a lot of hard work for something big, academically, and the results don’t turn out as great as I was expected to get. I’m not given a “hey, i know you expected better, let’s try again”, I’m told “you need to do better, go work harder and do it again” or “you blew it this time, do you realize the consequences it can have on your future?” Sometimes, I don’t care about what happens, I just want to be appreciated for what I can do, and not what I can’t. I have friends who aren’t as academically talented and their parents give them hell for it. It stresses them out and makes them just want to quit. But I always let them know that they can come to me for help. I am more than willing to help and tutor.

I can’t begin to count how many times someone in my family has said sometime over the years “you’re so skinny, eat some more.” or “you’re so short, why don’t you put in more effort to grow taller?” or “you’re so tall now” or “you don’t look good in those clothes without a chest” (This is mainly from my mom who works in fashion, but it’s true because the size I am, it can be difficult to find nice fitting clothes.) I don’t let this bother me too much either, but there are still days where I wish I were taller, more curved, more athletically built. Some days, I will wish that I wasn’t so Asian looking or had the background and experiences that I do.

Things to see

I read an article awhile back about the roles of Asian males in tv and movies, particularly Hollywood ones. I would like to see more non traditional Asian male roles by less traditional looking males. Unless the story is literally based in Asian culture, don’t have the one cool ninja guy be Asian and everyone else is something else. What about the suave con man? Or gentlemanly football player? President/leader of a community club? 

For the ladies, don’t make her the slut or concubine of the group. I like the idea of an angry but caring motherly figure for the dudes constantly getting in trouble. The kickass awesome chef sprouting sarcasm. What the heck, an Asian version of Ginny Weasley. Make her the leader instead of the follower. Melinda May, anyone?

We are not all that people think we are. We may have cultural differences with others, but we are also every bit as diverse.

Impostor Syndrome

This is the transcript of the Indie Soapbox talk I gave at GDC 2016…enjoy!

I want to talk about Impostor Syndrome.

I’m the type of guy that thinks people often try to find ways not to be accountable for their own failures, and initially when I read about impostor syndrome, I played it off as another excuse for failure. I dismissed it as whiny millennial garbage. But the description of it and stories I read stuck with me and I started to analyze myself and people around me and I’ve come to this conclusion:

Everyone feels like an impostor to some extent, it’s an issue of self confidence and uncertainty with your own abilities. Everyone that isn’t a narcissistic sociopath has felt these feelings at some point in their life, some deal with it better than others, but it exists in everyone. I don’t know what I’m doing. Everything I’ve done in my life I’ve just made up as I went along. That’s what everyone is doing. That’s how life works. That’s how evolution works.

I have felt like an impostor since the first days of school. I wasn’t known as the “smart kid” I got overlooked for several really neat academic things that all my friends got to do all because I never spoke up…and I never tried…and because of that I felt stupid. I felt like the dumb guy in my group of friends. Truth be told I wasn’t the dumb guy…I was on the honor roll just like them but I never felt like their equal because I never had confidence in my abilities and I always got overlooked.

I’ve changed the way I think over the years. In terms of Software Engineering, think of a brain as a ton of hardware threads. Each thread is thinking something like I need to do this, or I should have done that or I wonder if… In my brain, I have allocated one of those threads to be my thought skeptic…to monitor all my other thoughts and wake me up when I start thinking something stupid about myself. It’s very helpful, but I still have feelings of inadequacy and sometimes I feel very out of place.

In December, 2015 Handmade Con happened. I know Casey Muratori and Jon Blow and before handmade con I knew of Mike Acton, Ron Gilbert, and Pat Wyatt. I have such a tremendous amount of respect for all these guys and what they’ve done. When Casey asked me to talk, I felt really strange about it. I felt like maybe he needed another person, or felt sorry for me and I was thinking “Why the fuck would you want me up there? You have all these titans and some dipshit that made a game 5 years ago that’s been working non stop ever since but has yet to put out anything and the things he’s been working probably won’t see the light of day…i’m not a titan…I’m a titanic failure”, but when I started thinking these things that thought skeptic thread woke up and said “Hey…knock it off” So I said screw it and I took Casey at his word, I convinced myself that maybe I can offer something useful, and I decided to go with it. I’m glad I talked myself into doing it because it felt great. I felt very comfortable sharing a stage with those Titans. I felt like I was supposed to be there. I felt like a Titan because I let myself feel like a Titan.

I see a lot of people talking about impostor syndrome and how it affects them….a lot of these people I greatly admire both personally and professionally. When they talk about this, all I can think is they must have gone through something similar to what I went through when I was growing up. Something like they felt they were more than what they were perceived and through years of feeling this way yet not seeing any positive movement towards their self image, instead of understanding and being confident in their own abilities, they compared who they were to people around them and started thinking they were out of place and that what they were thinking about themselves was wrong. But that’s stupid because they weren’t wrong and they aren’t wrong. They are the titans those tiny almost inaudible voices tell them that they are.

I am a Titan. Do you know why I’m a Titan? It’s because I believe I’m a Titan. There are so many of you in here and out there on the internet that are so talented and I know you’re talented because of what you’ve put out into the world. By the way, don’t take any of this as indie love, I don’t subscribe to the indie club and I don’t like “indie” games just because of how the developers market themselves. What I like is people who do things and I respect people that do things even if I don’t like what they’re doing. I respect the courage it takes to put yourself out there.

Take what I’m about to say and remember it next time that doubt starts creeping into your head:

It takes a lot of guts to wake up every day and jump into the unknown. It takes a lot of confidence to rely on your own abilities and put yourself, and your work, out into the world. Realize that people with confidence don’t naturally have it, they just pretend they have it and the amount of confidence they have is based on how hard they believe the fantasy. If you’re a person who’s put even the tiniest little bit of yourself or your work out there…guess what? You’re not an impostor, you’re not pretending, and that tiny little voice in your head that says you are a Titan, start listening to it, because it’s right. You are a Titan.

I’m planning on coming out (as trans) to my tutor + history teacher at my college today. I’ve been out to my friends all academic year but it’s been nearly three years since I last came out to an adult (my mum) and I’m absolutely fuckign terrified.

I was feeling so grouchy the past few weeks but today I went to the city by myself and bought the ingredients to make my own toothpaste, a video camera and a calendar. I put charcoal in the toothpaste that I made so that it removes stains better (I drink a lot of black tea) but now the whole toothpaste is black which is pretty funny. I also put Stevia and peppermint oil so it tastes pretty good too! I wanted the camera so that I can film my friends and family so that I have home movies that I can watch later on. Right now I’m writing all my friends birthdays and important academic dates into the calendar and I feel excited for the future. I’m eating an apple strudel as well.