Asians Kids Have It Rough Too

Why This Generation of Asian Americans Will Break Old Conventions

All the love to our immigrant parents and all they've done, but it's time for a change.

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My parents both immigrated to America from Vietnam when they were teens. Not speaking a lick of English and dealing with the challenges of a new home, a ridiculously large family and the many obstacles that stemmed from war recovery and displacement, they struggled to adapt and fit in. Several decades later saw them with high paying jobs, settled down in the historically affluent and established city of Irvine, and having me. They had achieved their success story.

I consider myself lucky. I grew up in a beautiful neighborhood, never knew what true hunger was, and attended school in one of the best districts in the country. I was loved and had so many opportunities- piano lessons, tennis instructors, and the latest technologies (courtesy of my electronic-loving dad). It was textbook perfect.

However the 12 year old me who cried in confusion and frustration after being physically punished for "speaking out", and the 15 year old me who locked myself in the bathroom, throwing up because I didn't understand what an eating disorder was, and the 17-year-old me who ran miles in the cold to avoid going home because I kissed a girl but also liked boys, was confused. I loved my parents, I always did and I always will, but it felt like I never truly understood them, and them, me.

And it's not their fault, nor ours but it doesn't have to be this way, and it won't.

Subtle Asian traits is a Facebook meme page that has amassed close to half a million followers in just two months time. True to its name, the page features posts about growing up in an Asian household, and with many reaching upwards of 2k likes and thousands of submissions each day, it's insanely popular. I remember the first time one such post showed up on my newsfeed- it was a funny little thing about rushing to the piano when hearing your parents come home. I laughed, and tagged a friend. A few hours later, procrastinating and bored, I thought about it and revisited the comments. Many were joking about how they too had this reaction, and how they did this to avoid punishment. Thousands of people in my age group had this experience. And this is important. I know what you're thinking- "Really? She's going to bring a meme page into this?'" Yes, yes I am. This is because pages like this are signifying a growth and spread of a changing viewpoint on what it means to be true to your culture, while also creating a new narrative for generations to come.

Many millennials and Gen Z's often talk about the flaws of the older generation, and this is a conversation that is quite important to have within the Asian community. Although they have faced an incredible amount of hardships and trials, many still have a problematic viewpoint on race, sexuality, and mental health. My parents are no strangers to this. Although they can be considered progressive in many ways, having adopted a more Westernized approach to raising a child and maintaining income, they still hold on to troublesome ideals: the belief in physical punishment being effective, and the summation of mental health as being 'dramatic' chief among them.

This isn't an abnormality. Many of my friends, my roommates, and my younger family members share the same frustrations when talking to and discussing their own parental figures. This lack of understanding of the older generation's part stems from the prioritization of physical needs over abstract concepts (by necessity) and the historically conservative mindset of an old tradition. Although this mindset was helpful in establishing communities and a place for themselves in a new country, it has proved to be troublesome when put up against the more diverse and accepting narrative of our generation.

I'm here to say that this struggle is good. The fact that a meme page about relatable Asian experiences has grown so fast, is good. The record-breaking amount of young Asian-American voters turning out at this latest election is incredible, and the fact that we are recognizing our heritage through language, holidays, and tradition is a sign that it is possible to stay true to one's beginnings while also changing the narrative to one of acceptance and diversity.

For those of you who are reading this now, and are mentally nodding along with the descriptions of growing up Asian, I'd like to send you a virtual hug. It's hard, growing up with high expectations, strict standards about body image, and difficult conversations but, I'd like to implore you to think about the last time you had a discussion with your parental figures about what is troubling you- either personally or in the context of society. We, as a general population, are heading towards a brighter future- stable income, and kids raised with understanding and acceptance. However, it also wouldn't do to simply brush aside the contributions our parents and grandparents have put towards the future. Not everyone will be willing to hear about change, and that's okay, but it might not hurt too much to sit down and have a chat about it.

I am 20 now, and although my parents still joke about hitting me with a wooden spoon when I'm being particularly sassy, they are more understanding of my sexuality and my vision for myself and my future. It wasn't an easy process, but I love them and I want them to be included in the growing positivity of this new generation.

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.

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Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

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