“What motivates you? Do your parents pressure you, or do you pressure yourself?”
“I think my parents actually weren’t like the stereotypical Asian parents in terms of pushing and pressuring their kids, but I think what pressure I’m under is usually from my environment, or else pressure I give myself. I do think that my school environment in Taipei and Taichung was one that esteemed academic success, and one’s grades impacted their acceptance by their peers. But I think my mentality in University is just habit at this point. It’s different in University because nobody knows your GPA since everyone is in different programs, classes and years. But if all of the sudden I started getting B’s and C’s in university, and even if no one else knows, I feel like some part of me is slipping.”
“What was the hardest challenge you have to overcome?”
“One thing that was difficult growing up was just having to constantly move around. I was born in Boston, moved to Toronto age 5, moved to Mississauga age 7, moved to Taipei age 10, moved to Taichung age 15, moved to Montreal for university, and with each one of those transitions, or changes, it’s just a complete uprooting of your social circle and your community. In a broader sense, your attachment to any certain place or comfort in any place. That was difficult because throughout my grade school education, getting to know friends and not really anticipating being able to grow up with them led to a constant sense of homesickness and nostalgia.”
“What is your biggest fear?”
“That my understanding of God and spirituality and faith is wrong and everything that transpires in life has no purpose or meaning. Looking at the things that I’ve experienced, looking at the people that I’ve gotten to know, I feel like it all makes no sense, the world makes no sense if there weren’t some sort of intelligence, some sort of supporter behind it.”
“What made you feel like nothing would make sense without God?”
“It’s really difficult to explain, I guess. It isn’t meant to be a logical or intellectual argument that has the power to convince anyone other than myself… I can talk about the experiences but the experience are just kind of are what they are. Really amazing friends, really amazing people that I’ve been blessed and privileged to know, and all the love and goodness that happens between me and them and them with each other. I guess that’s been enough to ground me in a certain conviction that there is some sort of fundamental goodness in the world, as opposed to arbitrary randomness… Even with all the complexity of human society, science and nature, it’s hard to not believe there isn’t something behind all that.”
“Who is your role model?”
“I have a lot of people I look up to like crazy. A lot of them are really honest and have a certain sensitivity to happiness, who persistently have a sense of the world as being really beautiful and amazing.”
“Is there anything in society that annoys you or wish you could change?”
“I don’t really feel like I know a lot about of Canadian society. My ideas of Canadian society might be specific to just McGill. But I think that one thing that a lot of people in McGill, including myself, could all work towards is just being more sensitive to the people around us and their places of need. There’s just a certain distance between a lot of McGill students that makes it so that if one person is struggling they might not find the courage to directly ask for help, or feel like there’s anyone around them who would be willing to help at all. Overall, I wish there was more of an atmosphere where people help and care about each other. So just being proactive and being ready to be good to people.”
“What was the most important thing you learned through your lifetime?”
“Whether or not you’re happy or doing okay isn’t solely because of your circumstances. People can be happy who don’t have ‘objectively’ great lives, and people can be sad who objectively do. If you’re sad or if there’s anything that you’re not happy with, you can do things about it. It’s counterproductive to just think ‘this is the way my life is, I’ll just sit here and be sad and hopefully, maybe someday the sadness will lift’… You have a certain degree of control over your life, and the power to make progress towards whatever it is that you want.”
“What is the overall message of this interview?”
“Just slow down and find the things that make you happy, that make the world a better place, and then pursue them.”
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