JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2


March 10th, 2004 · 1 Comment

I find myself wondering why I am so ambivalent at times. This student essay Upward Mobility by Cristina Rodriguez-Hart from the Brown Alumni Monthly seems to capture some of that sense:

As the end of my senior year approaches, I’m more confused and fearful than ever. Now that I’ve had four years at Brown, everyone’s waiting to see me shine.

I grew up in Highland Park, Los Angeles, a working-class neighborhood of mostly Mexican and Central American immigrants. Violence, family, and celebration are all a part of Highland Park’s Latino culture. When I was younger, this culture was my own. I chose fighting over schoolwork. I looked and acted like all the kids on my block—dark-skinned and feisty.


Before coming to Brown I slid through these two worlds smoothly, not having to choose. When I’m home, I relax and let my language slip into its old ways. But when I return to Brown, I pull myself together and tone myself down. I shouldn’t complain, though. When I learned a year ago that the younger sister of my best friend from home was pregnant, I was confronted again with the reality of where I come from. I asked myself: How do I deserve all this when everyone at home is struggling to survive?

Now, as I leave the University to “make something” of myself, I have a new struggle to face. My mom has invested a lot of money into my dream. People at home expect something that shows it wasn’t all a waste, and so do I. Yet I don’t know if it’s possible to immerse myself into this post–Ivy League way of life while still holding onto where I come from in my core. Brown grooms you to be great. I’m not sure I want that. What I want is to be happy.

What does that mean? What I want is to be happy. I think that’s where many of us find ourselves. I know I am ambivalent at times. Afraid and confused. I know what I want. But how do I get there?

This writer realizes that being great or even getting educated doesn’t guarantee happiness. Brown grooms you to be great. I’m not sure I want that So what does make me happy? And how do I know what to choose? If not greatness, then what?

Success seems simple to chart and plan. You can figure out how to do it, how to make it happen, how to get where you want to go: in one agenda, ten easy steps, a five year plan. Happiness is a bit more murky.

Tags: journal

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Kris Hasson-Jones // Mar 11, 2004 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve always found happiness in figuring out my duty and doing it. Not only there, of course! But it’s a reliable source.