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  • Writer's pictureMel

“I help my fellow Asians disappoint their parents better”

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

That’s my joke answer to “What do you do?” at a recent East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) Heritage Month event.

The weight of parental and cultural expectations can be immense.

Imagine a backpack, one that someone else packed for you a long time ago. You’ve been carrying this backpack for how many years now? And boy, is it heavy. You’ve been doing a valiant job keeping at it. Other people may also have been praising you for it.

If only that were enough to lighten the load. Your back still hurts.

Hey, I see you. I see your struggle. I see the brave face you’ve put on.

And it’s not that you need my permission, but how about we put down that backpack for a while? Could we just look at what’s in it?

We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you’re open to it, though, may we do a little experiment? Maybe take one thing out of the backpack, leave it out for a day (or have someone else carry it), and see what happens?


The core question of identity is not who others think you should be. It’s who you aspire to be. 70 studies: Mental health depends more on living up to your ideals than to others’ expectations. Closing the gap between your actions and your values is a source of well-being.


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