This remarkable woman barely needs an introduction, but to the few of you who may not know, her name is Lisa Ling. She's a hero in the Asian American community, a mentor to so many young women, and one of the most prominent journalists on TV today. Lisa is also a working mother and wife, and host of the CNN series, 'THIS IS LIFE' which airs its second season tomorrow Oct. 7 at 9pm ET.
Dear Lisa at 15 years old,
Those boys don’t mean any harm, they just don’t understand how much their teasing hurts. It’s hard to believe it now as you sit in your room and cry after an episode of derision, but you will be so proud of your Asian roots and of being Asian American one day. In fact, your dearest friends later on in life will be Asian American, and you will end up marrying someone who experienced similar struggles with teasing and bullying as you did. Yes, you will be married one day, despite your revulsion for the institution of marriage as a result of your parent’s gnarly divorce. Your husband (breathe) will be someone you admire deeply. And although you will experience your share of ups and downs with him, he will become your best friend and truest confidante. Your love for your husband will grow and grow years progress, especially when you watch him with your child.
Ok, now sit down, I’m gonna drop a ball.
At about this time, I would suggest that you stop telling everyone in your life that you never want to have a kid. I hate to break the news, but you and your husband are going to have a baby who will turn your lives upside down and allow you to love in a way that you didn’t know you were capable. She…yes, she will make your heart melt and nothing in life will be more important.
Pick your mouth up from the table, I’m telling you the truth! Would I lie to you?
So no matter what anyone says to you about your ethnicity, know that it is going to become a hugely important part of your identity and you will cherish who you are and all of the Asian people around you. The truth is, you’ll almost entirely lose touch with most of the people in your world right now, especially those who were mean to you. You’ve always been a sentimental person, and those close friends of yours, and the parents of friends who became surrogate moms to you, will always be dear to you. But there’s no need to get so wrapped up in high school drama.
You may never forget the teasing, but it will drive you in ways you may have never expected. You will become a fierce defender of kids who are bullied and people who are marginalized.
It’s true, you’re not a great student. Being able to focus in the classroom has always been a struggle. But you are going to get an opportunity to travel at a very young age and you will thrive out there in the world. You will find yourself in places that in your wildest dreams, you never imagined you’d get to visit: Afghanistan, Iran, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Cambodia. You will witness human struggles and you will both laugh and cry with people. Being able to be in the world will propel you to want to communicate stories. Your goal will be to allow people to understand others better. It’d be nice if you cared more about money and finances, but you will love what you do so much that you would do it for free if you had the opportunity. Telling stories isn’t work for you, it’s what you are supposed to do.
Who knows, maybe some of the guys who teased you in high school will see your work, and tell their own children to never make other kids feel bad about who they are and things that they cannot change.
Stop crying, turn off the Def Leppard and go to bed.
Lisa is one hell of a lady to say the least. She's obviously one of the most intelligent people you'll ever speak to, but she's also kind, nurturing, and so sincere. I met her years ago when I lived in LA and she's always been extremely generous with her advice. We have a little joke that she started the 'jajang myun club' because a few of us are in 'Cho-rean' (Chinese-Korean) marriages. I'll take any reason to be in some sort of alliance with her.