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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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