The Odd Man (or Person) Out

Imagine this: you graduated college during the pandemic and decided to move to a new city because you’re tired of living comfortably in your parent’s home in one of the most expensive cities in Canada. You’re trying to make your mark without the help of your family to prove to yourself and them that you’re capable of being independent. Heck, you have done that since your first year of undergrad.

Fast forward to the new year: you still live in that new city, started a corporate job in one of the largest companies in the country, as well as writing for a local food and drinks magazine, AND you are serving your country on a part-time basis. Yeah, that sounds like the characteristics of an overachiever doesn’t it?

And yet, I still feel like I’m not doing enough.

Being the only child of immigrant parents, as well as being an immigrant myself, it doesn’t feel like I did a lot. My parents and I have many different experiences, but nothing beats giving up high level positions and a government job to move to a country, only to start over again so you are able to have a better future.

 Everyone in my family are in the usual “professional” fields: healthcare, business (ie. accounting), law, engineering, so on and so forth. And here I am, a professional in the food industry working in food safety, as well as a food/drinks writer and a freelance recipe developer. Meanwhile, my cousins are doctors, pharmacists, accountants and nurses. It has some sort of prestigious feel to it since food is deeply embedded into our cultural roots but when you hear someone say, “oh I am a food/drinks writer, freelance recipe developer and a food safety professional”, you have to explain to them why that should be held in the same level as the fields previously mentioned.

 I did dabble in multiple fields before somewhat deciding on what I want to do. Originally I wanted to be a chef but after working in the kitchen, I decided it wasn’t for me. There were times that I was struggling between working with food and computers or doing law because I was really interested in those three; I was in the culinary arts program, participated in a robotics competition and was in mock trial in high school (and other extracurricular activities). Those three are completely different fields and I could have chosen the other two. I was fixated on food because that was a form of creativity and I could get a job out of it. It was something that it could be safe and yet, it has some risks to it.

Furthermore, I am serving as a reservist in the Canadian military. Being the only person (that I know of) in my family that did not commission to become an officer feels like being a black sheep. Whether it be an infantry officer or a medical officer, it felt like I wasn’t good enough to be one and all it led to is being an army cook. But the difference between them and myself is that I enjoy feeding troops out in the field or on base. I still had to endure basic training and it was a challenge. It was an experience that not everyone in my family had done, but it is one of those things that I am truly proud of.

Overall, I should be proud of my achievements and what my goals are in life. I want to say to them, “hey, I made a contribution to society with food and you should not make me feel like my career is not on par with the others”. I want to be confident in my passions and not just be a cookie cutter that is under immense pressure just to be “safe”. I learned that there should be a balance between being “stable” and living your authentic self.

Yes I am juggling three jobs/careers, but this is just a stepping stone towards what I want to do. And I may be the odd person out here, but at least I am being myself.

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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