24 Apr G Day Stories: Lesley
Lesley Chang is an expert communicator with experience in communications, marketing and public relations in the public, private and non-profit sectors. She has worked as a volunteer on a wide variety of campaigns for a number of non-profit organizations, joined Nurse Next Door in 2014, and is a graduate with honours of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where she earned a diploma in Public Relations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society. Thank you for sharing your G Day Story, Lesley!
Growing up in a traditional Asian household is tough. The expectations parents place on their kids to do well in school can be brutal. The topic isn’t lost in pop culture – Glee’s Mike Chang introduced us to the “Asian F” when he received an A- on a chemistry exam. For those of you who don’t remember what happened, Mike Chang’s dad got so upset about the grade that he insisted Mike focus more on his studies and give up all that artsy fartsy stuff like Glee Club. And his girlfriend.
The pressures I faced as a student in high school to do well was very much like Mike’s journey – except worse. I attended my older brother’s alma mater – Richmond Senior Secondary.
Let me give you a little bit of background to put things into perspective. I am nine years younger than my older brother, so by the time I went to high school, he had already graduated and was well on his way to owning a successful business and making a name for himself. He was also a full time International Baccalaureate student at Richmond High and got straight A’s throughout his entire high school and university career. He even scored a full scholarship to UBC Law and graduated with the best and highest grades and honours a student could receive.
…that’s quite a bit to live up to.
It’s an understatement to say that I lived in my brother’s overpowering shadow during high school. There were teachers the school who still remembered my brother and his academic achievements. I’m not sure if they ever expected me to live up to the Chang family name, but I certainly felt the pressure to do so. At home, I don’t think my mother ever expected me to live up to my brother’s achievements, but I believe she really wanted me to.
My brother and I could not be more different – and at the same time, extremely similar. I was always the more artsy and creative one – terribly bad at math, good at English, bad at anything scientific, but give me history and I’ll eat it up. He, on the other hand, excelled at nearly everything except P.E. I was the same way in that regard – neither of us were athletic, although I did, at one point, join the swim team for all of five minutes.
Throughout high school, I felt his shadow in the hallways, punctuated by his graduating photo on the wall. At the same time, I began to explore other avenues of education that would let me shine. Whether it was something creative in the fine arts electives or a more technical skill like audio visual production, I was able to slowly carve out and hone my own skills in IB English, IB History, Theory of Knowledge (IB students, you’ll know what I’m talking about!), Japanese and the Media Arts class. Nevermind that I nearly failed Math 12 and my elective science choice was Earth Sciences (kids, there’s nothing wrong with fossils – they’re pretty cool!).
In the end, I graduated grade 12 on the Principal’s honour roll, an achievement I only made once in my entire high school career. Today, I look back at my high school experience and I’m glad I branched out into electives that would let me stand in the sun. I guess the lesson here is that while we may all be standing in someone’s shadow, it’s always warmer in the sun. Seek out your talents and believe in them – you’ll find it’s much more rewarding than trying to live up to something you know isn’t you.