Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.


Off the wall.

That's how I'd describe my family. My sister just took a semester off from studying financial economics in New York to attend the Cordon Bleu, a pastry school in Tokyo. My brother is a reserved, taciturn character with an interest in arctic engineering. My mom, a law school graduate and an avid but non-preachy yogi, founded a jewelry company on the spur of the moment. My dad is a non-conformist dot-com bubble survivor with a penchant for abstract thinking. Then there's me, the youngest of my parents' three "genetic experiments". I have an unhealthy obsession with avocados; I speak four languages, but understand six; I'm even rumored to have wrestled and won against a bear...

Unsurprisingly, my upbringing was quite Bohemian; my siblings and I were raised to the tune of three mantras.

Mantra 1: "Read the instructions, read them again, and then once more."

My mother's judicial background meant she ceaselessly emphasized the importance of meticulousness, which has resulted in my perfectionist tendencies. Reading carefully may seem like a simple task, yet many still fail. When my IKEA cupboard arrived, I carefully read the instruction manual several times, then threw it out. I spent the next 2 hours carefully whittling...

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