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Tia Nguyen

a personal essay by Tia Nguyen

Dear Asian Youth,

More specifically, dear Asian high school seniors. As more and more college admissions roll out and the passing of Ivy Day, know that you are not alone. Even if you got accepted into your dream school, watching other “more qualified” people get rejected can give you a sense of Impostor Syndrome. On the contrary, getting rejected can make you feel as if you sacrificed all your time, energy, and mental health for nothing.

Either way, it’s so frustrating. The conflicting feelings of knowing that getting rid of problematic standardized testing, due to its racial and class inequities, is great progress, but it also made the competition this year riveting.

Either way, I am so proud of you. No one acknowledges how tough it is to be a senior this year. Class of 2020 received so much sympathy for missing three months. This year, teachers are still expecting full effort. CollegeBoard is still expecting full effort. All while we are barely trying to hold it together, after being in a pandemic for over a year with no clear end.

Not only are we struggling to keep things afloat academically, but we have to deal with our crumbling mental health. Burnout from school and burnout from being alive because it’s frustrating watching and knowing how messed up the system is.

The system--governments, colleges, anything and everything; it all boils down to politics. Knowing that post college we are not guaranteed a job. Knowing that we are about to enter such a crucial stage, our childhood far gone. Knowing that epidemiologists have been warning us of this for years. Knowing that people still don’t believe in science and the virus. Knowing climate change is very real, watching our world go up in flames or snow storms or hurricanes. Watching universities worsen students’ mental health by replacing spring break with “Wellness Days,” all while taking thousands of full tuition dollars for online classes and refusing to acknowledge actual racism on campus. Watching the government fail to protect us because they simply do not care. Watching more and more people die at the hands of the police. Watching more and more people get hurt for protesting police brutality, all while white supremacists storm the capital unharmed. Watching the rise in Asian hate crimes. Watching more mass shootings happen. Watching our peers not care that any of this is happening. Watching ourselves become desensitized.

The most frustrating aspect is knowing that we essentially cannot do anything. Knowing that all the infographics and petitions will not change the system. While it does contribute to spreading awareness and educating more people to attain the power to fix the system, it is such a painstakingly slow process. This can all be so discouraging. Being an activist is great, but how do we deal with burnout?

When will we get the time to heal from this?

I wish I could end this on a super positive and encouraging pep talk. However, the truth hurts, and I do not know the answers myself. I am not sure if anyone does. Perhaps this is the worst part: knowing that all we can do is accept these feelings and try to heal from them.

Again, I am so proud of you. Truly. I know it is easier said than done, but please do not be so hard on yourself. It is not your fault, but is just the hand that we have been dealt. Please reach out if you want to talk about anything at all.

-a very tired Tia Nguyen

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