It has been a minute since my previous entry. I saw an Instagram post regarding mental health for the multicultural population and how that affects us. So, I felt inspired to write this entry. My family and I immigrated here back in 1998 (90’s were so good). I was a child and was uninformed. Honestly, I still don’t know the reason we immigrated. Better life? The (shitty) American Dream? The (shitty) land of opportunity? My parents were never the communicative type.
Arriving here as a child is a much easier feat for me as opposed to my parents. I picked up the language quickly and obviously adapted. Sure there were differences and customs I didn't understand. As a whipper snapper, you just blow it off and follow the crowd. Thus, this realization of cultural shock, mental health and cultural clash doesn’t hit me until adulthood, now. Now is when it is kicking in and playing out in life.
First up is communication. Our culture is not aware of its secondary meaning. We do not question the elders, the parents, only accept. We are not seen, nor rewarded. We just do as we are told. On top of that, I was a shy, timid one who lacked any exposure of what America was like. You can imagine I was a very good student. Listening to all the teachers directions, the other kids, and not saying no. I just did.
We also do not communicate emotions, feelings, thoughts, conflicts. They are all just pellets we swallow until one day it reaches capacity just so we can fill it some more, to then slowly release into adulthood. You may think, “take a trip”, “go spend some alone time, do what you like”, “just go”. Surely I would, except it comes with the guilt price tag.
Asian cultures value family and the elderly. Which means, it can be at the expense of the individual. I’ve never had the luxury of studying abroad, taking a gap year, traveling and exploring, including a variety of work experience. (I went the college route right out of high school so hopefully one day, I’d be a million bucks, so my parents could retire.) The other reason was, I've never felt comfortable “abandoning” my parents, nor did we have the financial capabilities to pay for any of those things. I do have siblings, then my mind wanders to, “well, I don’t want the burden to fall on them. Doesn’t seem fair.” Imagine my cultural conflict when self-care is the norm now. Me? What? Taking care of MYSELF? Where’s the middle ground?
With the expectations to be my true self, my roots, yet also adapt to the American ways, it causes me to feel disconnect, being an outcast. Where do I belong? Which parts of me do I piece meal together to create the “right” me to conquer this world? Adding my “different” personality to the mix, is a recipe for identity crisis. Just as I thought I figured it out, I opened my studio to find another set of struggles.
Having this business is foreign to me because I’ve never felt confident in life, let alone be a business owner. Imposter syndrome is the terminology now. I don't think my parents expected this either. We were all going to play the traditional game. Get an education, get a good job, get paid, retire. Being in the states provided me with resources and opportunities my parents lacked. I am able to do more than they did. In spite of that, it feels wrong to have them. “Guilty” party here.
To spruce it up, we add the “gratitude” concept. We should be grateful for everything we have. Not everyone is this fortunate. This emotion of guilt while also being thankful is a vicious cycle of unworthiness. I don’t deserve this but thank you? Or, how come I am unworthy of this? I should deserve this, so why do I need to be grateful? In addition, positive reinforcement, support and self-esteem are non-existent in my family. Hence, compounding the negative self-talk.
When I was in school and I was given a compliment, I literally did not know how to respond. Someone said they liked my shoes. I replied with, “ok”. Some said I was cute, “ummm. ok”. Those were my first encounters with “compliments”. What is that? And when I said something nice about someone, they would reply, “thank you”. I did not expect a response. Am I awkward enough for you yet? (my vip bffs, thank you for coming back to me <3)
As I am writing this, I'm not sure how it pertains to my business. I just felt inspired to share the trials and tribulations of an immigrant. (I guess also, I’m just a human being). I think it affects how one runs a business. The inner workings and behind the scenes of the owners’ cerebrum, not just from one culture, but a person who has their feet on both sides, or 3, of the line. Plus gender roles, personality, social class, race all that jazz.
I suppose my message is that the second generation does not have it “easy”. We don’t just automatically assimilate because we are younger and hipper (mind you, I was 7 when I arrived to the states. That is pretty young and I’m still managing). We just are good at concealment. And not sharing because that is also non-existent.
Thanks for reading. I digress now to BOOK YOUR HANGOUTS!
I. (Esthibar, est. 2018 - "winging it" beginnings)
The time has finally arrived. I have succumbed to the call of the “blog”, where thoughts are shared and are desired to be read. (Why the obsession to watch and learn all about another individual’s life/thoughts beats me). As an old soul gal who dislikes social media, it was puzzling when blogs were “in”.
I am doing this now, for the sake of my baby biz, because it supposedly helps gain exposure and traffic. SEO crap. Hopefully it does because I’m an outcast of sorts and I doubt the internet “likes” my content. I’m told clients, customers want to know the person behind it all. Thus, I present to you, the background.
To begin, I’m somewhat of a private person, so writing this blog puts me in a bizarre state. Here it goes.
Let’s travel back to high school years. I knew I wanted a career where I could help people. Medical is usually the first route. I was considering nursing at the time but then I realized it takes a special person, and I’m not that kind of special person. I did still want to stick to medicine so I thought, maybe dental hygienist. (My sister was a dental assistant). Less messy and good pay.
Spent some time in that area to learn how competitive it was. As I was attending college (thinking I had this grand plan laid out), I realized I needed a backup plan, in case college wasn’t going to turn out. I knew I wanted to hit the ground running with a skillset and not be millions in debt. This meant I had to go learn a trade.
My interest in aesthetics was piqued when I got my first wax. There it was. Esthetics school was going to be my backup plan. I enrolled while I was also going to college, testing out different majors, trying to find my calling and ended up switching from dental to pharmacy. Dropped out of college after I graduated from esthetics school, got a job at a wax salon. Worked there for a year and then got cold feet...
I was also a young'un. An insecure, diffident 21 year old with my first real job, wondering what I am doing with my life. Pre-life crisis moment led me to go back to college to finish what I started. Didn't want to quit halfway. Landed my degree in pharmacy tech and worked for a year in a hospital before I discovered my calling was actually ripping hair off private areas. The instant gratification and clear canvas was my jam. Thus, esthibar was born.
When I was brewing this baby, I wanted to be different because honestly, I'm different as heck. I just never seemed to fit in with any crowd, young or old. I’ve always felt like the odd duck. Typical Asian family dynamics, plus cultural clash when moving to the states will do that to ya. Furthermore, I was a shy, timid push over, non-confrontational kid. Confidence, why didn't you hang with me? So I NEVER imagined being a business owner. Just thought I would take the conventional "get a degree and get a paycheck" route.
There were also a saturation of skincare/hair removal spas that operated the same way. I was tired of that. My long term dream goal is to open up a salon that incorporates food (my first passion) and skin, creating a "bar" environment. A place where people can just start talking to other human beings. Maybe even score a date? Esthibar is a full-service salon bar where you enjoy skin loving snacks, sip on a healthy, non-alcoholic beverage while you chit chat away with a fellow sugaree, right before you get your hairs yanked out of you, or before your relaxing massage. No fuss, no muss. Smooth skin, belly satisfaction, make friends. Great hangout! What's more to love?
My desire to open a studio, where you come in for a service like you’re on a date with your best friend originated from life itself. Life has evolved to this go, go, go and work, work, work monster. It used to be simpler. Yeah, people were poor, but people are poorer these days (in terms of debt, quality of life and enslavement to the grind, etc, etc.) At least people were happier, if not slightly? I think about how women would frequent the salons, get their perm on, sit under the dryer and chit chat. Men had their barbers. You go in, get what you wanted, then leave happy.
None of this selfie, posting crap. None of this sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy. (Advertisement overload). I wanted a space to offer a service that you NEED or WANT, not because I’m “selling” it to you. (I'm also a terrible salesperson...) You don’t like your leg hair? I’ll take care of that. Want some of your wrinkles ironed out? Come on in. Love being a hairy dried up raisin? (nothing wrong with that if it floats your boat.) Sure! There’s no pressure, no trend, no fancy bells and whistles. Life is already complicated enough, plus the way society has been evolving and pfftt, technology? I want the opposite. I was sick of human disconnect. I'm old school.
Because of that, and my old school values, this baby wasn’t doing so hot the first 6 months. I refused to participate in social media. Didn’t hop on to IG til 6 months after opening. I still hate SM and only really use IG. I have no clue or intention of using other platforms. Word of mouth y'all is the way to go. Help a sistah out and spread them words, birds! (Also, I have no business background, no family business experience, no connections like some of y’all lucky bastards. Yes, this is directed at you know who.) I was on my own. Literally. Did I also mention pre-life crisis? Yeah, my head was TOTALLY in the game.
Everything I completed myself. From licensing, finding a space, signing a lease, painting the room, coming up with the money, ordering, you name it. It was a long trial and error on the first anniversary. Made mistakes, not learned from them, made them again, and learned. Went about it initially TOO different of a way, More trial and error, more mistakes, until now (where I face COVID and all. Life of a business owner. I do miss that 8hr employee life). So, that was the birth of my baby.
To keep it simple (ha!), this first blog post will end here. Maybe I'll write some more when I feel “inspired” to, or I begin to see the marketing results of this blog. Book your appointments!