Happier New You
By Hannah Kim
The closest members of the congregation joined our huge extended family for the traditional rice-cake soup feast on New Year's. While you ― "Eonnie" (meaning older sister in Korean) ― and I normally spending all morning tidying the house and helping our sweet mother prepare the fare might sound stressful, I realize it's actually a great way to kick-off a new year (though it's a lot of scrubbing and washing for one day), because the joy and laughter that fills up the house (and the smell of really good food) are always worth the memories we'll cherish forever.
I'm ecstatic to know you probably had an exotic countdown in Dubai this year. What perfect timing that you'll have witnessed firsthand the opening of the world's tallest skyscraper! You wrote there's very little Asian presence in the United Arab Emirates; I speculate Samsung's huge role in constructing the Burj Dubai and South Korea's recent acquisition of the $20 billion nuclear reactor contract have paved the road for the bold and the adventurous. Not only am I utterly amazed at how high the Korean people have reached, I'm excited for you to have been in awe of such an inspiring moment in history.
But without you with us this year, I (still) can't doff the feelings of hollowness inside the house and inside me. It's probably because, seeing Mom giggle with Aunt Lu and Grandma during the New Year's holiday weekend, I missed my own older sister on the very first day of the new decade at the very house we shared our childhood. I guess I'm just afraid, Eonnie, since we're now of marrying age, that the years we'll spend New Year's here together may be fewer.
In fact, I'm not joking when I declare it's one of my chief priorities to see you get engaged in 2010. Funny how our world is flatter and more connected than ever, yet it's nevertheless difficult to meet a decent man you can seriously consider dating. Since you can't safely Google or Facebook a potential husband, I'll butt in and proactively seek out my future brother-in-law (since I'd have to approve of him anyway).
Oh, and I hope you know how beautiful you are inside and out. I think you'd be pleased to know (though skinny jeans are still all the rage) that Kate Winslet was voted to have the body most coveted by women according to a recent poll. I'm glad Kate Moss was at the bottom of the poll, which should be a healthy reminder that ``Real Women Have Curves." You, Eonnie, really do have a ``model figure," so don't fret. I just hope Hollywood and Asian women, especially Koreans, will be freed from of their yo-yo dieting and stop stressing about their weight.
And if you mistakenly believe, like many other women, you have to choose between your career and family, look at Hillary and Palin: Who says women can't be at the top of their games and raise a family at the same time? I'm no feminist, and I'm confident I'll be a pretty darn awesome soccer mom, but it seems unfair to blame professional women for the ``unhealthily" low birth rate of modern times. We're exceeding men in school, and are breaking so many glass ceilings in society; so shouldn't more of us be granted equal opportunities to pursue the dreams that were instilled in us?
Eonnie, don't let your MBA go to waste. No, the degree doesn't confer any privileges in life (it's now commonplace), but it definitely proves your ambition. Since you've made the cutline to be considered a Millennial and belong to the Trophy Generation, continue to believe that you can succeed in anything you set your mind to do. You're diligent and intelligent ― what's to stop you?
Please don't feel encumbered by the silly notion that you have to forever take care of us ― your siblings and parents. Don't be so solicitous of our well-being, and refrain from setting yourself up for a triple standard on women. All we desire from you is to be nothing less than happy. Just follow your passion because I'm confident the universe conspires to bring it, one day, into fruition.
If these last few tortuous years in America taught everyone a lesson, it should be to reassess what is genuinely important in our lives. Money, we all learned, and greed for more, fall short of infusing happiness in our lives. I sincerely hope the next decade will reestablish the importance of family values and social ethics in our physical communities.
Certainly, as individuals, in order to recreate that kind of society at large, it would be wise to mark your signature: ``Live Life with a due sense of Responsibility, not as those who do not know the Meaning of Life but as those who do."
Eonnie, as you're about to start a new chapter in your life (with only one year left before you hit the "big three-oh") here's my toast to a happier new you!
Hannah Kim is a 2009 master's graduate from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, specializing in legislative affairs. She spearheaded the passage of the ``Korean War Veterans Recognition Act, U.S. Public Law 111-41." She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.