A Look Back at My Twenties

And so approaches the end of another decade of my life, my twenties. I wish I could go back in time and tell teenage me not to assume I’d have everything figured out by 25. I’d tell her that despite any setbacks, I’d reach my 30th year of life in a place I didn’t think was accessible to me, a little brown girl from Sharpstown, years ago.

This decade showed me so much and humbled me in ways I can’t quite put into words, but it also showed me my strength and resilience in tough situations. I wanted to share some of the biggest lessons I learned in case there’s another little brown girl somewhere (or just anyone) that’s about to turn 20 and is looking ahead with unease and uncertainty. I don’t sugar coat things so fair warning, it will be hard. Ultimately though, you’ll blossom into a beautiful thirty year old and realize it was all for the best. 

Heidi's Highlights Blogger

Timelines are Crap.

I said what I said. I have caused myself so much grief over the years by trying to meet imaginary timelines for everything. Graduate by this date, be married by such and such, buy a house before X date. Save up this much money by then, have my Mom set up the way I’d like by Y. Life literally said nope, nope, nope, and nope. And you know what? It’s fine. Actually, it’s better than fine.

I’m currently happier than I had ever been in my younger years and I wouldn’t trade the position I’m in or the experiences I’ve had for the world. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t have goals or should just let life happen to you – don’t do that. 

Just know that taking more time to achieve your goals is never a bad thing.  If there are stumbles on any of the courses your navigating, say graduating takes you a bit longer than you thought, there is likely a very good reason for it. You just can’t, and likely won’t, understand it until your way on the other side of the mountain.

Be strategic without stressing yourself over arbitrary timelines set by society. Our lives don’t begin and end in our twenties. You shouldn’t sacrifice doing things that are true to you or rush anything you know is in your best interest. If you want to take that extra year to graduate or are going to tough out that job because your gaining knowledge, go ahead. The world will not end because you missed your 17-year-old lofty idea that you’d be making six figures by 25. 

You’ll Continue Learning How to Build, Navigate, and Fail at Relationships.

Excuse my French, but – this shit got me. My twenties gave way to my first cute teenybopper love and then a couple of years later to my first “grown-up” relationship. I learned how to navigate the ever-changing and often stressful dynamics with friends and family. Let me just tell y’all now – I failed miserably, time and time again. The real ones are still around despite my blunders, and the same will likely happen with you. 

For the girls reading this – let’s talk boys real quick and get it out of the way. LADIES, quit it with the all men are trash nonsense. Some suck, yes, but so can we. Your twenties will hopefully be the foundation for you learning how to be self-aware and conscious of the person you are and how your behaviors are relayed to others. I realized I mimicked my mother’s incredibly strong-willed “it’s my way or the highway” way of managing relationships. After a few years of vicious brawls, struggling with depression, and some enlightening therapy sessions, I finally realized that maaayyybbbeee – the same behavior I found intolerable at home would also be unacceptable to someone else. Note: if you constantly find yourself blaming others (especially in relationships) for the same repeated situations/behaviors, just know it’s a great time to take a second and step back. There’s a common denominator in all of that in need of a little lecture (*ehh hem* – you. FYI – this El/La Toxica sh*t is not cool).

What I will give you a heads up on, is to go ahead and brace yourself to learn these lessons the hard way. I had a very whimsical idea of what growing up would be like in my teens but I can undoubtedly say now, that for every lesson worth learning, I had to be dragged through it. However, these same tribulations will teach you what is most important for your mental and emotional well being. You’ll learn your boundaries and when to be firm versus accommodating, how to be self-accountable. And throughout this course of self discovery I’d also advise you not be so fast at canceling everyone and everything. Most everyone around you are experiencing the same naivety. Give them, and yourself, sufficient grace and empathy.

You Don’t Owe Anyone Sh*t.

Respectfully. This goes for relationships, your career, hell, the neighbors I don’t know. If you feel stressed by them – THAT’S WHO I’M REFERRING TO. If someone/something is constantly robbing you of your joy, your energy, your ability to function correctly – then it’s time to cut that out. Yes, I know I just said give people grace, but don’t do it to the point where you’re over-extending yourself to the max. Everything has a balance and learning when to say no is critical for your self-development. Some of us learn this skill early on, think Naomi Osaka. At 23, she pulled out of the French Open after them throwing a fit because she didn’t want to do a press conference (heavy on the ‘miss me with it’ energy). I’ve only recently learned to have the gumption to put myself first so watching her confidence and strength as she stood her ground has been truly inspiring.

You saying no to some plans you really didn’t want to show up to, or to additional responsibilities way out of your scope won’t, and shouldn’t, be the end of the world. If they are, then it’s time to reevaluate your circumstances. 

Do Things That Force You Out of Your Comfort Zone.

Being a certified non-risk taker, I have mastered the craft of staying in my comfort zone. I can think of many ways that hindered me, and if I had to tell myself or you anything – it’d be just that. Don’t be so afraid of the world; book that solo trip, try out that new activity. If you can think of at least a handful of ways that the experience will enrich your life and create memories you’ll look back on fondly, then go for it. 

I Still Don’t Know What I’m Doing.

Surprise surprise. This was the most painful lesson of all. I wanted to be the all-knowing Oz by the time I hit 30. I wanted to have answers to everything. I was going to coast through the rest of my life. But whoomp whoomp, if I had everything figured out already, then what the heck would I be doing after 30? It took getting into my late twenties to realize that that would be, for one, painfully boring, and two, what kind of badass would I be if I just stopped growing in my twenties? Oh, that’s right, I wouldn’t be one. 

I now don’t mind what’s left to come. I welcome the adventure, the new experiences, the stories I have yet to tell. 

Most importantly, I’m thankful for the people that are with me now. The friends that have stuck around through my extraordinary and most disagreeable times. I’m grateful for the wisdom that comes from age and from spending time understanding the generational behaviors passed on within my family. And I’m thankful for surviving the moments that I thought would mentally break me. To the two best friends God gave me – I owe y’all more than you’ll ever know.


I don’t care what you’re going through – DO NOTI REPEATDO NOT CUT YOUR BANGS. Why is this such a thing? I don’t know, but seriously, put the scissors DOWN. And don’t box dye your hair black either. What was I thinking? Lord.

First Generation-er’s, where ya at?

Written Sep 3, 2018

The past few weeks as I’ve been going thru well, life, I’ve had some opportunities to talk to some of my fellow first gen’s about some difficulties I’ve been having. All a mix of growing pains and self-inflicted pressure. I realized that we were all going through some version of these same situations silently and so I thought I’d write about them. Maybe this is helpful to one of you reading this and you’ll find comfort in knowing you aren’t the only one feeling what you’re feeling.


Okay. First things first. Who here is the child of immigrant parents and has felt this immeasurable sense of needing to be the best thing since sliced bread? That, or face mass judgement by the best of your family members and eternal sneak disses by that one auntie.

I’m currently imagining a mass of hands going up (praying a lot of people read this post to amount to a mass of hands to begin with LOL) and heads nodding feverishly like “Yassss girl I FEEL that!”

To make things worse, you feel like you’re disrespecting the hardship your parents might’ve gone through to get to the U.S. because of your “failures” and you’ve got yourself quite the predicament.

For some of you, I know this fuels your fire like nothing else and you head out into the world and become the Cesar Milan’s/Uzo Aduba’s/Michelle Kwan’s that we celebrate. The awareness of the opportunities you’ve been given and the example of such hard-working, relentless families surrounding you propel you forward to accomplish the greatest of heights. Hats off to you my friends, because you’re pushing the boundaries of what can be accomplished no matter the circumstances every single day.

But that isn’t all of us, and it’s not me. Personally, I have always had a hard time with this pressure. It’s often been debilitating, difficult, and overwhelming to try to navigate life as a young adult while also trying to live up to my mom and dads’ expectations of what I should be. Heidi you should do this, Heidi you’ve got so much opportunity just go that way. The subtle hints of “we came here with nothing and have given you everything we can, so make something of it,” suck. As you grow up with the usual stresses of school, trying to figure out the kind of person you’re going to become, and maturing, you also consider the high expectations you have to live up to. And I know a lot of you will read this and think, okay well boohoo that’s every child, right?

I beg to differ.

For those of you non first-gen folks, you have a pretty big advantage. Your families are more ingrained with American culture and you taking your time to figure out what path your life will take doesn’t feel like a make or break decision. You’ve hopefully got a little more wiggle room and freedom to enjoy and explore life while you consider what it is will be your choice to go full steam ahead with your future. A lot of first generation kids don’t have that. Many become the sole revenue streams for their families early on, and any change in their paths comes with a lot of consideration as to how it affects one or more individuals they are responsible for.

Some of you might have dreams of being something totally different than what your family has molded for you. You may not have any dreams at all and are trying to figure out your passions. Asking for patience and respect and kindness in these incredibly personal times can be awkward and risky. Our loved ones unrelenting desire to see us succeed often manifests itself as them constantly pushing us to be our “best.” The consideration of whether we are genuinely happy often gets lost in the chaos.


I don’t know about most of you, but just the thought of having a relationship and telling my parents makes me cringe. Sorry but if you aren’t a doctor/genius/part time attorney/pioneering politician/and weekend astronaunt – good luck. Okay, I’m exaggerating but I know for many of us first gen’s, bringing home someone “worthy enough” is a MAJOR deal.

I remember growing up I’d watch all these shows where the kids bring their dates home and it’s no big deal, everyone giggles and welcomes whoever in like it’s just another day. HA! Cute.

Not our case. I’ve literally made a rule for myself that unless I think or see potential of myself marrying the individual, no one’s coming home. Why you might ask, is this such a big deal?

In my case, my mom like so many others, did not have the best of relationships. Abusive, controlling, toxic, relationships are incredibly common in a lot of our cultures and our parents (I’m looking at you my beautiful immigrant Momma’s) go into the world with a paralyzing fear that we might end up in the same situation as them. Therefore, they do everything in their power to make sure that doesn’t happen. For others, marriage could be considered a golden opportunity for you to move up in the world. And for some of you it may even be both!

Regardless, dating is no easy feat and often our choices and caution are misunderstood by others who haven’t had an experience quite like ours.

“Your” Future.

The quotation marks are on purpose.

You can do whatever you’d like with your life, absolutely. But for a lot of us, that means keeping in mind the ten other items that go along with making sure that as you age, so is your family. You’ve got to plan your retirement aspirations as well as your parents, your grandparents’, maybe even aunts and uncles. Immigrant families are close knit groups and the love and lifestyle that you enjoy because of the proximity is amazing. It also however, lends itself to carrying a lot of responsibility for us first gen-er’s. Our decision making is intricate and multi-faceted because so much of what we choose to do and act upon can greatly influence the lives of those closest to us. A lot of us end up maturing developing empathetic sensibilities quickly because we understand from young ages that our choices affect those closest to us.

So, what now?

So, my fellow first generationer’s, now what? What do we do with all these chips being seemingly stacked on our plate from jump, while we try to also balance having our own freedom’s and experiences? The biggest crutch for me are my friends. Expand your outlook. Get to know others and learn what they grew up like. Explore the cultures of those around you and you’ll quickly find similarities, especially if you happen to be the children of immigrant parents. I almost never have the answers, but after lengthy consultations with the girls who I know understand me the most, I often walk away with more clarity and peace than I would’ve ever had trying to figure things out on my own.

In addition to forming those fundamental bonds, learn to understand and empathize with yourself. The pressure of so many responsibilities is heavy and can overwhelm even those with the strongest of mindsets.

Give yourself space and find something that allows you to spend some time being truly selfish. Go to an arcade, spend an afternoon at a beach or lake. Find your equilibrium and allow yourself to remember that this is YOUR life to live no matter what. We’ll always yearn to do the best for those around us but, disregarding yourself and your mental well being is the quickest way to fail everyone, not just yourself.

Try not to let the fear of making mistakes paralyze you. You’re going to let people down every now and then. It’s a natural process in life. Don’t avoid things because you’re scared of what your loved ones will say or do. If they dislike it, oh well. If they gossip about it, oh well. It’s your life to live and they’ll get over it, eventually.

And finally, don’t be so hard on them. Whether it’s your parents, grandparents, extended family, whomever. They all have varying reasons for having come to this country and most of the time those aren’t positive. They’ve often lived through hardships that we can’t even fathom and through the years have done their best to raise the children they’ve brought into this world. They’ve often spent the bulk of their lifetimes in countries with much different views on parenting and relationships and it will take them years of continual growth to understand that your expectations are going to be different that what they expected from their families.

They won’t ever be perfect and more than likely the sheltering and protectiveness is a result of them wanting to protect you from the evils they’ve seen can occur in the world we live in.

Embrace who you are and where you come from. As first generationer’s we get to add to the kaleidoscope of cultures that make this nation so great and your story is valuable. Hold your head up high, quirky family and all. Trust me, there’s plenty of people that understand exactly what you’re going through.

And to @bosefina, preach girl. That tweet spoke to me for sure.

Written Sept 3, 2018