Sorry, mom. I never lived up to your friends’ and relatives expectations. I never became a business woman or a doctor or a scientist. I had such a bright future too, pursuing something more…ordinary. But I never liked being normal anyways.
I’m not sorry I chose this program, or I felt that this program was meant for me. I’m not sorry I’m doing what I’m doing with my life and have made the decision to pursue the calling of, so to speak, “saving the world“. But I do feel bad, because my decisions never just affect me, they affect the people around me.
Asian culture is weird. Asian church culture…it’s even weirder. There’s a fine line between tradition and belief. Asian culture and tradition dictates that as the child of an immigrant who struggled and continues to struggle to find a place outside of the world they used to know, I am supposed to do my best to get a good job, stable income and work twice as hard knowing how privileged I am. To, as the saying goes, bring honour to my family though my success.
On the other hand, growing up in a church makes a person understand the importance of grace, mercy and love. And why it’s so important to help people in need. Not because you should by moral standards or that you’re capable but because you care about them. Helping someone out of love is different than helping someone out of ability. And the world is in desperate need of someone to love them.
So the two sides of my upbringing have always conflicted. Because I want my family to be proud, but knowing that I am privileged makes my heart ache. I know that there are still people out there facing the same struggles and worse that my parents faced moving here. Because loving others is my calling. But it’s a never ending struggle to justify your choices to a group of people you care about and who care about you, but mostly want to see you succeed in the world than give up everything. Give as you are able to. Give as much as you can. But not everything.
When people don’t understand my program or what I want to do with my life, I’m filled with a little bit of a sorrow. A lot of people get this look of pity and confusion but fake a smile as if they’re thinking, “What a strange idea. You’re going to have such a rough life ahead of you. It’s a nice thought but I wouldn’t do the same.” Or they kind of nod their head and go, “Oh that’s nice. Good for you.” Detached and slightly unapologetic.
And whenever someone asks my mom and dad what I’m studying or what I’m doing and my parents have to explain…well the same thing happens. I’ve always been a little outside the box so I suppose they’re more used to it now. And I’m sure my parents are proud of me. I know that they have the courageous heart to support me regardless of whether or not I’ll have a stable future. But I know that I can handle the hardships that come my way, I feel bad that they have to deal with the same thing.
Imagine explaining to your family or friends that your child is going into a career of barely scraping by or constantly dealing with tragedy and hardships. I don’t think it would be easy, especially not in a culture that values stability, success and ease of living.
So, mom, I’m sorry that I have to put you through the scrutiny of a culture that won’t understand exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing. Or that you’ll have to face the hardships of a parent not knowing exactly what your child’s future holds. But I know you love me. And that you’re proud of who I’ve become. I’m just ready to do more than sit behind a glass wall observing the pain the world is in and never try and make a difference. I hope you can forgive me.
What are some of the passions you have in life that you’re willing to go all out for? Let me know in the comments below!