Asian-American restraunteur Eddie Huang visited Northwestern on Saturday, May 24, as the Taiwanese American Student Club (TASC) spring speaker. As the bestselling author of the memoir Fresh Off the Boat, which ABC has adapted into an upcoming TV show by the same name, Huang spoke to students about the life opportunities that have taken him from law school to stand-up comedy to cooking.
Below are some memorable quotes from his talk.
"Even today, I have no idea where my life is going every day. Things happen to me that I cannot expect; challenges come up just when you think you've done it, just when you think you've made it. Like Woody Allen says in Annie Hall, 'This relationship is like a shark, and when sharks stop swimming, they die, and this relationship is a dead shark, 'cause it's stopped moving.' I think as people, we have to challenge ourselves, every single day, every single month, every single year. You gotta challenge yourself, because the day you stop reinventing yourself, you die inside."
On working at a law firm: "I would just buy new and ridiculous clothes...I would buy anything and everything that would piss [the management] off and that wasn't in the dress code, and they changed the dress code every time.
"I would encourage people to find whatever it is you're passionate about, if you see things that are unfair - I know each and every one of you wakes up every day and is like, 'Something is unfair. Something isn't right.' And you don't have to accept it. I'm not smarter than anyone, I'm not more powerful than anyone. I didn't come from a family that could just snap their fingers and make things happen for me, yet I was able to do it because I believed in myself and I stuck with it and I didn't allow people to tell me, 'You know what, this is the America you're gonna have to accept.'"
"Don't do anything because society tells you to do it, do it because you want to. I walked away from a big law firm job because I just didn't like the way they spoke to me. If you don't like the way I look, why do I want to work with you? If I disgust you, what does that say about the way you think about me?"
"Accept the unknown, but don't accept someone who doesn't believe in you or doesn't allow you to be yourself. Your life is gonna change ten times over from today... As you peel back the layers, you'll get closer and closer to who you really are. As you peel back, your circle of friends gets smaller, the things that you watch get smaller, but it's good because slowly as you get older you start to get closer to your core. "
"You will go where you belong, where you want to go. You have a choice in life."
"I think it's important not to curb your voice for anyone...being smart has nothing to do with how you talk, it's what you say."