So you decided to learn even more about me?
I grew up in your typical single-parent, immigrant family in Toronto. I’m Vietnamese by the way, if you couldn’t tell already by my last name. And of course, I consumed countless bowls of pho, plates of cha gio, and bottles of nuoc mam! I definitely recommend traveling to Vietnam, it’s amazing! Cheap and delicious food, beaches, mopeds… who wouldn’t love that?
My parents escaped from Vietnam in the 80s, fleeing to Europe for some time. Eventually, they immigrated to Canada, messy stuff happened, and ta-da, my siblings and I are here today. Sibling #1 is Jenny, a math and science genius who is younger than me by two years and should really be older than me. She’ll probably discover a cure for autism and not dishona our famiry.
Even younger than her is my brother Van. He refers to himself and a plethora of inanimate objects as “va va”. He doesn’t speak and he has autism. Van is the only guy I know who will find hours of amusement flushing a toilet, taking extremely cold showers, lining up toy cars, and covering our living room floor with playing cards! That makes me the oldest, which may I add, is an unworthy title for someone who had to ask a kid who can’t talk how to use a can opener.
The (positive) things I remember the most from my childhood are: the public library, Chinatown, Lite Brite, YTV, the Backstreet Boys, and Windows 98. I used to look like your average gangly nerd, complete with thick, round wire-frame glasses and a mouth full of braces. Ahh, the joys of flossing for over an hour!
I spent my days practicing the piano, wishing I could paint like Frida Kahlo, teaching myself programming languages, and maintaining my Evanescence guild instead of earning Neopoints. Throughout high school, I participated in many engineering competitions and did the IB program.
I also struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. This is a topic I have never publicly shared and was deeply ashamed of for a decade. I’ve been through the lowest of lows – been to what is jokingly called “rehab”, struggled with medication, couldn’t complete everyday tasks because I could not “get over” certain things, and have pushed people away in my life and others have shut me out of theirs. Being surrounded by new people in university has motivated me to confront my demons and share my experiences with others.
Today, I can proudly say I am in a happier place. Being a developer is the right kind of a distraction for me! Everything is a work in progress and will always be.