Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made and recognizes their achievements in a variety of fields. BIPOC@Dox is an employee resource group (ERG) committed to fostering a culture of equity and inclusion for Doxers of color. We had the opportunity to catch up with Crystal Salcedo, Senior Mobile QA Engineer).
What does being Asian American mean to you?
Growing up as a second-generation Filipino American in a city that was considered the “U.S Murder Capital” in the 1990s and predominantly Latino, Black, and Polynesian, I really didn’t process myself as being Asian or any different at the time. Due to the violence outside of our front door, I was never allowed to play outside as a kid and essentially became the “girl in a bubble.”
Neighbors and schoolmates thought I was Mexican just like them until I was in first or second grade. I attempted to correct them that I was actually Filipino, but failed. After looking at a world map together, they simply associated me with being Chinese. Back then, I recall the majority of all Asians being put into this “Chinese” bucket by default. I accepted it as this was as close as I could get my friends to understand the Philippines and Filipino culture. They even gave me the nickname “China” (pronounced like “Chee-nah”) which pretty much meant “Chinese girl” in Spanish. I was never offended because I was really excited to have a nickname outside of what my parents called me.
Fast forward to high school and college… and boy, did I have culture shock! After leaving my “bubble” in East Palo Alto and exploring nearby cities, I couldn’t believe how many other Asians existed! I’ve bumped into many childhood friends who have told me, “Did you know you were the first Filipino/Asian I ever met?” or “Your mom’s lumpia (the Filipino version of an egg roll) was so bomb!”
I feel like I didn’t really get into Asian culture until I was in my 20s and I am very adamant to correct others that I am Filipino. If I grew up on the other side of the overpass, I’m sure my life would be a lot different, but I’m so blessed for my interesting and unique upbringing. My cultural environment really molded me into the person I am today and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
How do you bring—or strive to bring—your full self to work?
I didn’t start to bring my full self to work until recently. When I started at Doximity six years ago, I was self-conscious about anything that had to do with my life story, especially my education. I didn’t finish college so I constantly compared myself to others and even had an “on-and-off” switch for the way I talked to specific individuals. Shoot! I was even hesitant to get food in the HQ snack room in fear that I might get stuck in a simple conversation about the weather with someone. I was so paranoid that those who graduated from Stanford, Harvard, or wherever were judging me and that I wasn’t “smart” enough.
Due to this, I woke up with my anxiety through the roof. It took me a while to adjust my thinking, but I realized that those were silly thoughts in my head, replaying a scenario that never even happened. Now, I tell myself every single morning that I was CHOSEN to work at Doximity and am still here for a reason (even after taking down Production a few times. Sorry!). I also learned that Stack Overflow is any developer’s best friend and realized I am just as smart as anybody else who knows how to perform a Google search. I’ve definitely amazed myself numerous times.
Another important thing I tell myself is: that I am only one person. In the beginning, I tried to work on everything under the sun to prove I was capable. It worked pretty well at first and I learned so much in a short period of time, but I ended up overwhelming myself. I confided in my partner about how I felt. She advised me to continue doing the best I could and to ask questions but to always remember that I really am only one person and can only do so much within a certain amount of time. This has stuck with me since and helps me tremendously when I start to feel like I’m not “good enough” at my job. I am!
How are you taking care of yourself during challenging times?
This pandemic really tested a lot of us, including myself. Before the pandemic, I was a heavy drinker who thought alcohol would help tone down my anxiety. Nope, and when the pandemic hit, it got worse when BevMo was added to the DoorDash app. Alcohol was starting to control my life and was slowly destroying relationships with my partner, family, and friends. I really didn’t want it to affect my work next.
I ended up joining Alcoholics Anonymous, attended Zoom meetings, got hooked up with an amazing sponsor, and have been sober for over 450 days now. Who am I? Good question, I don’t know. After choosing sobriety, one would think that all your problems are immediately solved, but I found out there is way more to it than that. I had to re-learn how to deal with my emotions and thoughts while being sober. This was especially hard since I was unable to turn to alcohol to temporarily numb myself.
After trying to do this on my own, I had to bring in the reinforcements by turning to Ableto.com, where I was introduced to a super cool and down-to-earth woman from San Diego who specializes in LGBTQ+ AA groups. I always looked forward to our Saturday morning meetings and completed an eight-week session with her where I learned several tips on how to tweak my negative thinking and break what they call the “downward spiral.”
Until now, I have a ton of work to do for myself as I’m still trying to figure out what interests Crystal and which hobbies she would enjoy outside of work hours. I’m only sharing this so others don’t feel alone and aren’t afraid to reach out for help. I never thought I would join AA or see a therapist but both have been the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far (besides marrying my partner).
You got this and I’m here if you need me!
How do you honor/celebrate your heritage? (i.e. food, language, faith, arts, etc.)
To be honest, I’m not a cook and did not make the extra effort to learn Tagalog or Ilonggo (my family’s dialect) growing up. As most first and second-generation children, I only knew how to take bits and pieces of conversations that involved my name and put them together, and of course knew all the bad words. I also wear a cross pendant on my necklace, however, I’m not as religious as most Filipinos. As I struggle to find my answer and re-ask myself, “How in the world DO you honor/celebrate your heritage, Crystal? Do you even do that at all?“ I realize I’ve unknowingly honored my culture since I was a toddler.
Growing up, it was a huge deal for the youngsters to greet their elders and anyone else that was in the room, even if they were strangers. Like any child, the first thing you want to do is play with all the other kids at the party, but I always made it a point to greet everyone and to eat first (mainly because my parents made me). This is a sign of respect and I still do this until this day for any event I’m attending, especially work offsites. This has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone numerous times and have met so many amazing people from all different walks of life.
Recently at an offsite, a fellow member of our LGBTQ+ group stopped me just to thank me for being so approachable and acknowledging their presence every time I was in the same room as them. This made them feel very comfortable.
When I hear other people’s encounters with Filipinos, whether they were the nurse from a recent hospital visit or that one coworker who always throws an impromptu potluck and makes sure to bring enough food for everyone, they always mention how “at home” they felt by them. So, I’d have to say this is how I honor my heritage the most and I strive to make others feel as welcome and “at home” when they’re with me.
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Interview conducted by Angelica Recierdo
Banner image created by Chloe Chan