Wednesday, August 4, 2010

daughters will love like you do.

Baccalaureate dinner, 2007
My parents have always been strict, yet occasionally easygoing, people. I remember there’d be times when Dad would scold Na and me for being rude: “Mo ly mao,” he would say, and I’d retreat to my room and sulk, scribbling in my fuzzy yellow diary about how mean he was. Thinking back though, I’m grateful for those lessons in manners. Na and I were raised to make eye contact, introduce people, offer help and take care of others. I've adopted my mother’s penchant for selfless compassion, though it's often coupled with my father’s lack of patience. “You’re such a mom,” observers have told me in the past, and I was never sure if that was a good or bad thing.

As we grow up, we’re faced with a dilemma: Do we want to be like our parents? Whether we can help it or not, there are elements of our parents’ personalities that we inevitably acquire over the years. I notice it more and more everyday in myself. But while I see a lot of my parents’ mannerisms in my own actions and reactions, there’s so much of who I am that has been shaped by the environment and the people I’ve surrounded myself well as the desire to not be like them at all. When my temper rises and I'm quick to lash out, I'm reminded of all of the terrible moments of my childhood that caused me to become withdrawn and I feel guilty for asserting any kind of authority over somebody else. I try, more and more, to calmly collect my thoughts and talk things out, but rationality is difficult when emotions get in the way. I guess in those cases, withdrawing and giving yourself a day or two for space and reflection is necessary, aka the opposite of everything I witnessed at home. I admire my mother's patience all these years, but there were times I wondered how she did it. My own patience would wear too thin and, as evidenced in the past, I've allowed myself to get pushed over and taken advantage of.

I've always found it hard to "be myself" because I've never really tried to base my personality and actions off of somebody else. I never had a "hero" growing up; sure, I admired my sister and mother and there were aspects of their personalities I desired, but as I grew older and began to view the world in a very cynical manner, I stopped idolizing people and apathy crept its way into my mind. I don't know how much of an optimist I would consider myself anymore - but, then again, I was never the "sunshine and rainbows" person I wanted to be.

LHS graduation, 2007
I guess I've started doing things, not because others do them, but because I feel like it's what should be done. If someone comes to me with a problem, I think about how I would want it to be handled and then go off of that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sadly, I've allowed myself to become consumed by responsibility, which is something I feel has taken away a lot in my life. I've always felt that the burden of other people's problems were much easier to bear than my own selfish torment, but in the past few months I've come to the conclusion that life is too short to take my own emo angst too seriously. Nothing is ever so bad that it can't be overcome. With this outlook and approach, a lot has changed and I think my pessimism is slowly making room for a little ray of sun every now and then.

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