December 17, 2015

I got a lot of comments regarding my “Jantelagen” post, mostly from concerned friends and family back home. I don’t want to paint Sweden as a negative place or mean to offend anyone (being very Swedish here), but there are certain cultural differences that I’m finding it hard to accept or adapt to. It goes without saying that often times I feel that I don’t belong here and being myself will make that divide even wider. I’m a person that enjoys having strong female relationships, I’ve been built up by the support of my girlfriends and positive strong female influences such as my sister. She had a lot to say about my post because she was concerned about how I was adjusting and I love her for it.

She wrote me a strong email describing our background and highlighted things about my family that I didn’t even know. I’m going to share this with you so you understand where my drive comes from and why it’s shaped who I am. I hope she doesn’t get mad I’ve shared parts of her email, she’s quite private unlike me…I’ve deleted all the sensitive parts. 😉


“Our parents arrived to the U.S. with barely a lick of english.  Dad spoke some, mom did not.  They were able to come here due to some random Americans sacrificing their lives fighting a war that wasn’t even theirs, to save our people.  Then, when we landed here, instead of closing their borders and turning us away, the country took us in and helped our family build a future.  Dad worked several jobs to support the family while he went to the University of Tennessee to get a degree in electrical engineering.  Mom took a job in a sewing factory to make some money, as well as took lessons to learn how to cook to feed us.

When dad received his degree (given all his hardships and lack of resources, this was not easy, by the way, especially in a competitive field such as his), he graduated at the top of his class, and thereby was recruited by IBM in the Silicon Valley, which is what brought us to California, where they had you.  I am telling you this, because even though our parents are ridiculous parents, they worked damn hard to get us from nothing to out of poverty, even if they just did it for themselves… not everyone succeeds.  And, Dad… It is not easy to have the skills to become a pilot, let alone survive being one in a war, then come to a new country and rebuild your life with absolutely no money and no support, but with 4 mouths to feed.  I’m sure you can relate to some of this feeling.  He had brains and the drive to succeed in a foreign country despite all the handicaps.  That is strength.  

I’m telling you this, because I want you to have pride in yourself and from where you came from… you come from really strong, hard-working, struggle-surviving stock, Little Fists!!! And our adopted country, the U.S., is something to be proud of. Have pride in the fact that little Melissa Tran did it all on her own, and was a six-figure woman when she left.

You are right… you “just don’t fit in here.”  That’s because you’re strong, independent, and ambitious.  Just because you don’t fit in somewhere doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.  Being unique is sometimes challenging because you’re not like everyone else, but that just gives you a competitive advantage. So be loud and proud, Sister!!!  You have so much to offer!”

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sister like mine, someone that will always look out for my best interest and boost me up when I’m down. She has the ability to pull me out of my funk and gives me the strength that I sometimes lack. For this, I love her so much. But this story is an example of strength and hopefully encouragement that everyone has the ability to be greater than they thought possible. Don’t ever settle, be proud, keep striving, keep fighting because in the end… you will always end up on top.


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