Stories of Resilience:

My Success is Not in Upholding Cultural Expectations

Her Story:

Name: Avagail Lozano
Born: Daly City, California
Lives: Germany/California
Handle: @avagailadventures

I’ve lived my whole life in the hyphen of being Filipina-American.⠀Being told I’m *not really Filipino* or people assuming I’m *not really American* (cue “…but where are you from?” questions).⠀

Growing up in the bubble of diversity that is The Bay Area I was fortunate not to feel othered due to my ethnicity until I went to San Diego State University. The majority of students were white – the total opposite of the environment I grew up in. So I joined the Filipino-American student org where I started learning about my cultural roots beyond my family’s traditions or the food I ate.⠀

I didn’t realize the importance of actively embracing my culture until that point in my life, but growing up a daughter of Filipino immigrants I was always acutely aware of the sacrifices my parents made. On top of expectations to achieve “The American Dream” (get a degree, find a $$$ job, buy a house, settle down) I placed the responsibility on myself to live life in a way that proved their sacrifices were not in vain…⠀

…until I decided not to become a nurse/engineer/etc. Which was fine for the first few years after SDSU; I landed a well-enough paying corporate job, but I was miserable. Using my privilege as an American, I decided to follow my dreams of traveling, teaching English, & living abroad to be where I am today.⠀

I’m proud of my Filipino heritage but…⠀

My success is not in upholding cultural expectations.

It’s in finding the courage to take a non-traditional path despite still feeling cultural guilt.⠀

It’s not in working tirelessly for a six-figure income.⠀

It’s breaking the generational curse of financial illiteracy, learning from other WOC who teach about personal finance with the nuances of culture.⠀

It’s not in perpetuating colonial mentality for “The American Dream.”

It’s in choosing ME & my happiness, showing other Fil-Am Millennials & Gen Z that there are many American Dreams.⠀

But mostly my success is in unapologetically embracing myself as Filipina-American. ⠀

Because they’re right. I’m not either/or.⠀
I’M BOTH: Filipina AND American.

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