Asian Expectations

Coming into this life, we never know what to expect. We think we’ll build this amazing life for us, just to find out that society and our families have already laid out what is bound to happen. Their expectations for us are so high, it feels like we should maintain and exceed it. But, where would our happiness lie if we were to follow that. Would we follow our path or everyone else’s? 

I will never forget what my former teacher told me. “We are like an onion. There are so many layers of us that needs to be peeled. We need to feel and be seen,” she said. She’s so right. There’s no one side to anyone. We have so many secrets we tend to hide in order for us to be truly happy. The quote, “Travel and tell no one, live a true love story and tell no one, live happily and tell no one, people ruin beautiful things,” is sad but true. Everyone wants to love who they love, live honestly, and tell people about the good things in their life. But, not everyone can be kind. Some people’s hearts are judgmental and people don’t seem to care how others are truly feeling. Some people will lie and say they do because they will be seen as caring people. It’s time for people to stop being so judgmental and let people dress or feel how they want. I’ve also been through a lot. I could never express my feelings to my family because I knew they would never understand. We always keep our feelings to ourselves and if I were to express why I’m feeling sad or depressed, their answer will always be, “Be strong. You’ll be fine.”

I’ve kept secrets for most of my life and I needed a better way to handle it. I have dealt and struggled with social anxiety, depression and harmful thoughts towards myself. If I didn’t journal, I felt like I would explode. Plus, I have gone to a therapist before and I felt a bit better afterwards. At least a therapist wouldn’t judge me. We all need jobs in order to take care of ourselves and our families. Of course, I want a career. That will always be my number one priority. Most Asian parents want their children in the medical field. Why? I’m not sure. Probably because if their child is a doctor, they’ll be seen as a hero because they are saving lives.

There’s nothing wrong with that and the parents should support them if they choose to be in that field. In college, I was a Nursing major. I didn’t want to be but my mother pressured me into it. She said, “If you don’t want to pursue the major after a year or so, you can change it but I want you to try since it’s a stable job.” Like a good Asian daughter, I listened. Did I enjoy it? Not at all. I’m terrible when it comes to studying science. I could never remember everything I had to study. I could study for a month straight with flashcards and still get a C on the exams.If it wasn’t an A, I thought I failed because I wanted to prove that I could be just as smart as other Asian kids. I was miserable. I cried every time I didn’t do well and felt like a failure. During my sophomore year, I didn’t want to handle the pressure anymore so I changed my major to Journalism. I did what I loved most and that was writing. I was excited to see what the Journalism field had to offer. I was also afraid because you had to interview people too. I’ve never been great at socializing with people but I intended to get over the fear and do it anyways. After writing various articles, I’ve realized I could do this.

I can be just as great as other Journalists if I just did my best, and so I did. Looking back at my college experience, I don’t regret switching my major but I also didn’t regret trying the Nursing major either. It made me more confident in myself and my skills. I realized, just because I’m not in the medical field, it doesn’t make me less intelligent than other people. It’s just not right for me. 

 Fashion is all about expressing ourselves. I’ve loved different styles and I don’t belong to one style category. Growing up, I had to wear a dress because that’s how girls ought to dress. We should be seen as petite, kind, gentle, and strong but not stronger than guys, since everyone said that’ll turn them off. In all honesty, I don’t care if I like to box, play sports, or dress like a tomboy. That doesn’t make me any less of a girl. My style changes constantly. I could dress like a tomboy one day and the next I could dress really feminine. I feel like I’m living different lives in order to feel content and happy with myself. In my parents’ and my relatives’ eyes, I’m this shy, quiet, petite, Buddhist, Asian American girl who has to be good and emotionally strong all the time.

We don’t talk about our feelings in our family so I usually write in a journal. In addition to being Buddhist, I’m also a Christian, bisexual, who enjoys dressing like a tomboy one day and dress really feminine the next day. I also go to church on a lot of Sundays but I tell my parents I’m going to Starbucks to work on my writing because I’m afraid that I’ve turned against them and Buddhism but I haven’t. I’m still apart of both but I am on my own spiritual path. Some of the qualities I love about myself is that I’m strong and independent. I want to be able to provide for myself and my family, especially financially. I don’t want to marry for money. I want to marry for love. It baffles me people choose to marry for money because they are so dependent on someone else. What happens if that person no longer wants to be with you? What if they abuse you? What if you end up with nothing? It’s better to take care of yourself. In the Asian culture, I’ve heard from my relatives that I need to find someone before I’m thirty or no one will want me. I’ve also heard you need to let your husband provide and take care of you and you should have kids and stay at home with them. I was also told, I MUST have a family or else no one will take care of me once I’m older. First off, I don’t know if I even want a husband, especially since I’m bi.

I would rather marry someone I’m in love with and that can be with either gender. There was a coworker of mine that said, “LGBTQ+ people have mental illnesses. Probably, when they were younger, they experimented so much. Like, girls kissing girls then suddenly, they actually are lesbian. They all of a sudden are gay.” It actually doesn’t work like that. Sure, I have kissed guys and girls but I actually liked kissing both genders. Just because someone kisses the same or opposite gender, doesn’t mean they automatically like it. A guy might like kissing a guy more than kissing a girl even though he’s already kissed a girl many times. Sexuality is fluid and it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s not just about kissing anyone but feelings of love should be involved no matter who you’re attracted to. Secondly, I want to provide, take care of myself, follow my dreams and own a home independently someday. If I were to bear children, I would not want to be a stay at home mom. I would rather work and earn a living. I don’t mind being the breadwinner. The pressure of finding someone is insane. You can’t pressure love. Love is supposed to come naturally and if you hit it off with someone then great, it’ll work out. It’s not like I don’t have crushes on anyone, I absolutely do. I will only try to pursue it if I like them a lot. Most of my crushes are females but I would always be afriad to see if they are gay or not. With my flirting history, it seems like I’m always falling for straight girls. I do not have great gaydar so I could never tell. That’s probably why my heart is always broken. I’m also not great at flirting so building a friendship first is easier. 

The only person I’ll ever want to emulate is Mulan. She may be a fictional character, but her morals are what made her unique. She comes from a Chinese family and wants to be the “good daughter” so she does everything in her power to be obedient and make her family proud. She wants her family and society to view her as kind and one who always obeys family. Then, her father was called upon to fight in a battle but Mulan sacrificed herself instead. Females weren’t allowed to fight in battles so she pretended to be a guy just so she could take her fathers’ place so he didn’t have to fight. She protected her dad and did what she thought was right. In the beginning, she struggled to fight but she kept practicing like she’s never practiced before. She never gave up. She kicked ass at battle and then, they found out she was a female. People were shocked but it goes to show that females can kick some serious ass too. She was a fighter and from that movie, I was inspired to play sports, box, and do karate. Females don’t have to be anyones’ cheerleader, they should be in the field and believe in themselves. 

Times are changing. We’re not supposed to live in an era where we discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals and putting females and males in categories, but yet we do. It’s not hard to let people live their life. It’s not hard to let others be happy but yet we make it hard. You need to understand that the people around you won’t have the same mindset as you nor do they want to be like you. Everyone is unique and has something to offer the world. We’re taught to treat people how we’d like to be treated, with respect. So, why should these issues be any different? It shouldn’t. Not all Asian Americans are the same nor should we be treated as such. There are stories behind everyone of us. It depends if you want to read ours or not. 

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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