Dear Worldchanger,

It hasn’t been easy being a first generation immigrant in this great country, the USA. But that’s okay because easy is no fun. It’s boring. Easy can keep you stagnant, complacent and flat-footed. In order to grow, you want to always be on your toes, not flat-footed. Learn something new every day, even if it’s something that seems minor and trivial.

Even after 42 years of being in this land of plenty, it never ceases to amaze me how some individuals let opportunities just pass them by. There’s a reason that us “foreigners” chose this country as a destination to rebuild our lives. It is with fortitude and determination that we forge forward to achieve a better and brighter future for ourselves and our loved ones. As for you, do you realize how fortunate you are to have all of this? Don’t take your wonderful country and all this freedom for granted. You can say and do whatever you want here in the US. Not so, in a communist country. They can kill you for saying and doing the wrong thing.

Be different. Be hungry for a greater purpose in your life. Don’t let laziness or excuses consume you. Don’t just merely exist. Live! Grab life by the horns! Don’t get mad at us “foreigners” if you deem us more educated or more successful than you. Instead of wasting your energy on being angry, invest that energy in doing the same thing for yourself, your future.

Be purposeful and intentional with each of your thoughts and actions. It doesn’t matter what job you’re performing. Even if it’s scrubbing toilets for a living. Do it well or don’t do it at all. Don’t be mediocre with anything in your life. It’s easy to be average. It takes hard work to rise above that. Are you up for the challenge? How much do you want to get out of the short life that you have here? With everything that you do, ask yourself how you would stand out from the crowd? How are you going to deviate from the norm? My father posed these questions to me as I was getting ready to graduate high school. I have never forgotten them because they permeate and direct my life. They’re part of my core values. I hope that they do the same for you.

As an optometrist, all I need to do is get the patients in, get them out. No more, no less. Just do my “eye doctor” thing, right? Wrong! People have many choices as to where to go for their eye exams. I have fierce competitions within a mile radius of my office. The long-termed success of my practice is predicated upon me standing out from others by my delivery of exceptional patient care. It’s easy to be like others, but it takes more work and dedication to be different. Being mediocre is not in my blood. Don’t be afraid to deviate far from the norm. Stick to your beliefs and to what defines who you are. Be real and genuine. Reach beyond mediocrity! With this mindset, my practice continues to thrive after nearly two decades. I am blessed. I implore upon you to embrace a similar way of thinking.

Last but not least, remember to mind your manners. Be kind and respectful. Don’t forget your please and thank you’s. Be thoughtful and empathetic. It’s not always about you. The world does not revolve around your ass. In working with the public, it just blows my mind the degree of rudeness and selfishness that I witness on a daily basis. Most patients seem surprised at how polite and nice I am to them. Certainly, you can see the disconnect between my standards versus what is considered acceptable in today’s society. Just because it’s acceptable doesn’t mean that you should behave like that. Refuse to accept society’s norm as your norm. Again, don’t be like the majority. Be the minority. You’ll leave a longer lasting and more positive impression with others when you stand out from the crowd when you deviate far from mediocrity. You’ll get farther in life. And you’ll make your parents proud because who you are is a reflection of your upbringing.

I can go on forever, but I just wanted to share some of these insights from a “foreigner” with you. Live a life of gratitude on a daily basis. Make a difference every day and make each day count. Life is a blessing and a most wonderful gift. Maximize it! You matter!

Many blessings,

Dr. Susan Truong


*Proceeds from The Conversation Event benefit The Mobile Book Library for Homeless kids and families.

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