Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am a die-hard Golden Bears fan. On any given day, I’m wearing at least one article of UC Berkeley apparel, I always choose blue or gold as my colors of choice for any occasion and I can sing along to nearly every fight song in the book. I have already looked into buying alumni season football tickets for when my future children inevitably attend this magnificent university.
But underneath all the layers of my California loyalty lies a deep, dark secret that I am about to divulge for the whole internet to know: I am a $tanfurd legacy.
It’s true. It causes me physical pain to recall the dark times in my life when I donned Cardinal red and posed with joy in front of the Hoover Tower. Even more excruciating is the shame I feel when I think about my byline on, dare I say it, the Stanford Daily (I literally shuddered as I wrote that). But this was the life that my father, an alum of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, indoctrinated me into. I grew up a stone’s throw away from the Farm and was brainwashed into thinking that the lesser school on the other side of the Bay was worthy of praise and admiration.
When I was applying to colleges, I didn’t even consider applying to Stanford given that some of the freshman residence halls were a mere two blocks away from my childhood home. And when I was ultimately accepted to UC Berkeley, I felt something stir inside me. Despite my legacy, roots and origins, I could sense that there was something greater out there waiting for me. I could feel my blood start to turn from Cardinal red to California gold. I remember very clearly the begrudging look on my dad’s face as he uttered, “I hate Cal, OK? I always will. But is it the best school for you?” I didn’t have to say anything for both of us to know that the answer was yes.
Since then, I’ve deleted all traces of my past wrongdoings from the internet and phased out all red clothing that I own. I’ve fully embraced the life that I created for myself, independent from the legacy that, despite my indignation toward it, I was privileged to inherit. But as my mom sometimes points out, usually after rolling her eyes at my excessive California spirit, you can’t change your past, and you can’t change where you come from.
Perhaps my dogmatic allegiance to UC Berkeley and everything to do with it is some kind of overcompensation for my roots and the legacy I was given. But that’s the funny thing about a legacy — you can’t choose which one you inherit, but you can choose what you do with it. We don’t get to pick where we come from, but we do get to pick where we end up. I think I made the only rational choice by casting my legacy aside and finding the enlightened path under the guidance of the spirit of California. I’ve come to learn that when you don’t fit the legacy you’ve been given, you can create and leave behind a new one that is entirely your own.
Contact Hannah Nguyen at [email protected].