About | Charlene Kwon Coaching

There are few things scarier in life than disappointing our immigrant parents.

There are few things scarier in life than disappointing our immigrant parents.

I have lived with that fear for most of my life.

I have lived with that fear
for most of my life.

My parents and older brothers emigrated from South Korea in the late 1960s. After working hard to establish a new life in the U.S., I was born into a comfortable middle-class suburb in the south. By comfortable I mean we lived in a four-bedroom house in a very good school district. But outside of these surface comforts, as in inside of my mind, I felt like everything else was uncomfortable.

The top lesson I learned growing up was that I was an outsider.

I wasn’t like most of my American peers. I also didn’t feel like I fit in with my own family. I existed somewhere in between, suspended between two very different cultures. If I had a misunderstanding at school, the teachers would think that it was because of my upbringing. If my parents were unhappy with my behavior at home, they believed it was because I was “too American.”

Since I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, I desperately tried to fit in everywhere by pleasing everybody around me. I would behave one way at school so that the teachers would praise me, and I would behave one way at home so that my parents would be happy. I practiced piano for two hours a day after finishing my homework and completing all the housework required of me while my parents were still at work. 

Spending my life as a people pleaser didn't turn out so well.

As an adult, I came to the difficult realization that trying to please everyone around me had made me lose sight of my own needs and desires. It wasn’t until my late-thirties that I realized that almost all of my decisions in life had been dictated by someone else.

After a long period of self-reflection, I learned how to find myself once again. I slowly turned down the volume of the external voices in my head and started to listen to the person I had lost for so many years.

Instead of continuing to build a life based on other people's expectations, I slowly dismantled my old thoughts and beliefs and began rebuilding my own unique new life.

As I rebuilt, I also began to ask my mom a lot of questions to better understand the foundational beliefs that I had grown up with. I asked her why she had been so hard on me; why she never seemed to have time to listen to my American problems; why she had not attempted to learn more English. She came back with the same questions. Why didn’t I appreciate how hard she pushed me; why didn’t I have the patience to listen to her difficulties as an immigrant; why I had never learned to speak more Korean.

We talked like this for a long time, and I learned through this process of asking and answering, that what we had needed in our past was to have better thoughts about each other. 

This was a revelation.

I learned that my mom wasn’t constantly disappointed in me. She was only disappointed that I wasn’t happy. It just happens that her ideas about what bring happiness were and are very different from my own.

And that’s okay.

Today, I coach other first-generation women who feel disconnected from their parents and from themselves.

In our sessions, you will get clarity on your personal values and principles, and this clarity will extend into your relationship with your parents, your career, your love life, and, most importantly, yourself.

We will begin with a free 30-minute session where you will share your goals in coaching with me, and together we will create a plan for you to reach them.