“You’re just wasting money.”
I still remember my dad’s disapproval as he was driving me to the airport. Shit was hitting the fan. Hong Kong would be my home for the next 6 months. I was a 20 year old student that lived in Boston my whole life. I’ve never traveled on an airplane or lived in a foreign country by myself.
Thoughts were rushing through my head. I didn’t want to waste money or time. What if I didn’t make any new friends? What if people would laugh at my Cantonese and I starved to death? What if my dad was right about everything? Fuck. How was I going to do this… especially when he wasn’t on my side?
See my father was also an ABC (American Born Chinese). At 7 years old, my grandfather died from thyroid cancer, leaving my grandmother to raise her 5 kids by herself. My dad grew up broke and struggled financially. Because of his upbringing, my dad supported me financially, but rarely provided me emotional support…like showing up to my high school graduation.
Then I moved to California, changed my environment, and it hit me.
Our parents never had the opportunity to think about opportunities beyond survival. Rather than worrying about when to eat dinner, my dad was uncertain if dinner would even be on the table. When you have these basic survival worries, things like “being happy with your job” take the back burner. Because our parents struggled so much, they hold a higher standard for us. So they say things like…
“Artists don’t make much money. Go be a lawyer.”
“Art is not a stable career, you aren’t guaranteed a job from it.”
“Video and photography makes little money”
“Doctor or you’re not my family!”
Have you heard any of these things before? I know you have. Our parents’ skepticism and doubt is out of love. Their WORST nightmare is seeing us homeless or sucking dick just to make ends meet.
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