Why do we do the things we do?

I don’t mean eating, sleeping, showering.

I am referring to something more substantive. I want to know how we define ourselves and make our place in the world. This is not a philosophical rant about existentialism. This is a curiosity I hold about human behavior. This inquiring mind has led me to spend the past 4.5 years in a PhD program.

As you know, I have come to a point where I need to well, really-do-it, or get off the pot. The readings, the units, the exams, the truckload of tuition bills got me to this point so I have to find the truth. But not THE truth because in my view, absolute truths don’t exist. Humans are messy and sticky and there is a lot of grey area when it comes to our behaviors.

I seek the truth of individual experiences and perceptions…the relative truth.

I am giddy about this next phase of my life.

Between now and mid-August, I will prepare for my comprehensive exams (pass all three) and move to PhD candidacy. This takes me closer to discovering what it’s like to grow up Asian in America and how it affects behaviors at work. An office environment can be an extension of high school so as an Asian do we feel like we’re an immigrant or outsider all of the time? Do we overcompensate? Do we assimilate? Do we apply for stereotypically “Asian” occupations like accounting or engineering? And if we fall into any of these areas, what does that do to our sense of well-being, confidence and purpose?

I may have given away the secret to my dissertation topic…the “hook” so to speak. But I wanted to share this with you: to let you know I’m committed to finding answers to these questions.

When the time is right, Butters, Bambi and I will embark on a journey across the United States to interview Asian women and learn their life stories.

Through hearing their stories and retelling them, I will learn more about me and how I fit into the world.

Relatively speaking, of course.


Categories: Elixir

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