Finding Serenity in Chaos

The Texas Story Project.

Swinging a pink backpack over his shoulder with one hand, Daniel’s other hand wiped the fatigue from his tired eyes.

“Another day, another battle,” he said sarcastically with a large grin on his face.

Daniel swiped up a stack of bills left on the countertop on his way out and stuffed them into his backpack with a deep sigh. When he was 10 years old, he and his family immigrated to America from the Philippines. Now, Daniel studies at the University of Houston as a Chemical Engineering major, works as a Dental assistant, and volunteers at Memorial Hermann Hospital. At only 19 years old Daniel has his own home, is making ends meet, and chasing his dream—all at once and all on his own.

With the American Dream in their mind and hope in their hearts, Daniel’s family left everything they ever knew, for a supposed “promised land” that will cultivate a beautiful future. However, Daniel faced difficulty when he came into the real world and quickly realized that inevitable growing pains and mistakes were going to be a part of his journey. Suddenly, America didn’t seem as “white picket fence” as he had thought it was going to be. The workplace was competitive, school was competitive, and juggling the two was more than a handful. Though Daniel knew he was investing in himself, learning, and finding resources that will make it all worthwhile in the future, he found it difficult to remain optimistic and truly feel at home. All of this changed when he moved to Houston, Texas.

Most of his days were spent focused on school, work, and filling the time gaps in between with video games. He kept to himself mostly, spoke when spoken to and did the bare minimum of what was expected of himself. Then, Daniel met a girl. He describes her as the “epitome of beauty” and “everything that he’s ever wanted in a woman”. They’ve been together for over three years now, and Daniel claims that her presence in his life has made him into everything that he is today. She was the complete opposite of him. Confident and headstrong, she always challenged him, prompted him to work hard, but she also knew when he needed a shoulder to cry on.

“She’s just like my mom. It’s actually really they like to eat the same things, and her approach to certain situations are things that I’ve seen my mom do,” he laughs.

But it was her faith in him and her love for him that gave Daniel the confidence to love himself. Daniel started working out and lost 70 pounds, joined a basketball team, several organizations at school, made life-long friendships, and he says even carries himself differently because of her.

“Even though this probably seems like it’s all about her, it’s actually not. It’s really about myself. I needed to have an open mind and an open heart. I needed to be able to find the courage within myself to let her come into my life and help me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be,” he tells me. It was a change in mindset and heart that allowed Daniel to come out of the dark.

Daniel goes on to compare her to Houston. He says even though he was born in the Philippines, he found himself in Houston. Houston is his home. She is his home and peace of mind.

Vy Doan is a sophomore at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. She studies Biology, and is also a great enthusiast of Texas history and journalism. Doan was born in Houston, Texas, and has lived in Texas her whole life. Her parents immigrated from Saigon, Vietnam and met each other in Texas in 1995. Though Doan has lived in Houston all of her life, she moved to San Antonio for college. She loves Dr. Van Hoy’s Civilizations class at St. Mary’s University, and how involved in Texas History Dr. Van Hoy has inspired her students to be.

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