Reasons to Read “How to American” by Jimmy O. Yang
How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents, by Jimmy O. Yang – Why You Should Read.
Long-term traveling doesn’t always mean there are activities planned for every single day of the week. Sometimes, it’s great to just take a breather, relax, and read a good book.
For my down time, I’ve decided to read How to American by Jimmy O. Yang. If you don’t know who he is, he plays Jian Yang on HBO’s TV Show, Silicon Valley, and he’s also in the recent big movie hit, Crazy Rich Asians, directed by Jon M. Chu. The book is an autobiography of how Jimmy made it to become a successful Hollywood Actor as an Asian immigrant, told in a humor only Jimmy can pull off.
As an Asian-American, not only can I relate to the book from an Asian perspective, I can also understand it from the perspective of a Westerner. Here are the reasons why you should read How to American, by Jimmy O. Yang.
1️⃣ Empathize with the Asians who Grew Up in America
Jimmy grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Los Angeles, California at the age of 13. Although I was born and raised in America, I still felt many of the same issues immigrants faced after coming to America, such as dealing with racism, balancing traditional Asian values with Western values, culture, or trying to fit into a mainly “White” school.
2️⃣ Laugh at the Stereotypical (But True) Traditional Asian Values
The most important values in American culture are independence and freedom. The most important values in Chinese culture are family and obedience. And by no choice of my own, I am caught in between the two worlds.
-Jimmy O. Yang
You don’t need to be an Asian immigrant to be caught in between both (Asian and Western) worlds. As an American-born Chinese, we were taught at home to get good grades, go to college, and become a lawyer or a doctor. However, in American schools, we were taught to follow our dreams and passions, pursue extracurricular activities, and embrace creativity. How many of you have felt this way? What do you end up choosing?
3️⃣ Understand the Asian-American Identity Crisis
Am I Chinese or am I American?
I am sure, whether you are Asian-American, Asian-European, Asian-Canadian, Asian-Anything, you have faced this identity crisis some time in your life. These constant clashing of values and culture, as I have mentioned in my previous point, is an internal debate that we all have.
Which one should we listen to? Get that well-paying stable job that we don’t like, or give up that stability to take risks and follow your dreams? ➡️ As you can tell, I took the stable route but ended up hating it. Now I have given all that up to pursue my dreams and passions. Do I know where this decision will take me? Nope. Do I regret it? Nope.
4️⃣ Understand How Asians Try to “Fit-In”
‘Sag your pants a little so you don’t look like a nerd. Nobody pulls their pants all the way up.’
I remember in middle school during PE (Physical Education) class that all the guys had their gym shorts sagged all the way down below their butt. I quickly learned that this was the cool thing to do. So did Jimmy. There were many other ways we all tried to fit in. This was just one of them.
5️⃣ Understand the Importance of Family
In A Chinese family, we never say, ‘I love you.’
Traditional Asian parents do not express their love verbally, and this is true for 90% of the Asian families out there. Instead, they express love through sacrifice, hard-work, or straight up insults to your ego, and this rings especially true for many immigrant parents who moved to the U.S. to seek a better life for their children. Jimmy’s parents were one of them–so were my parents.
6️⃣ Understand How Being American Has Given Us “Freedom”
Americans are encouraged to dream big and do anything we set our minds to. The United States is the only country where the pursuit of happiness is the right of its citizens.
-Jimmy O. Yang
Having a U.S. Passport has allowed me the freedom to pursue better opportunities abroad. It has allowed me to travel to many different countries without much restrictions, and I am very grateful for that.
I’d rather try to pursue my dreams knowing that I might fail miserably than to have never tried at all. That is How to American.
-Jimmy O. Yang
If there is one thing I have learned as an American, it will be this: Take risks, follow your dreams, and do not let people tell you that you cannot do something. If there is something you are unhappy with, then make changes to your life that allows you to pursue your happiness.
? And the Final Most Important Quote
‘Dad, are you proud of me?’
He replies earnestly, ‘In a Chinese family we don’t have to say it all the time. You should know that I’m always proud of you.’ Deep down, I knew that, it was just nice to hear him say it.
-Jimmy O. Yang
This one has hit me close to home. For those of you who know me personally, I lost my father after I started my Solo Travel Trip last year.
My whole life, I’ve just wanted to hear my dad say that he’s proud of me, or that he loves me. But as you know, traditional Asian families don’t say that. And now that my dad is no longer here, I will never get the chance to hear him say any of these words. So to all parents or future parents, remember to VERBALLY express your love to your kids.
? Final Thoughts
If you haven’t already, I definitely recommend reading How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents, by Jimmy O. Yang. His autobiography is very well written and if you are Asian, you will definitely connect in many ways. If you are not Asian, you will still get many good laughs because Jimmy writes it in such a way that you will get a chuckle out of every sentence. In the end, the book puts life into perspective a little bit.