My Own Roots (Through a Kaleidoscope)

So where do I come from? 

I am starting on My Life Through a Kaleidoscope, writings that are more retrospective and self-centered. But I haven’t got any idea about how I want to do this, so I will just start with a more directionless form of writing first, then narrow down later.

Let’s see.

I was born before the 21st century, but the my growth was pretty much dictated by it. My Chinese family is a 70%-30% cross of the traditional conservative type and the modern progressive type. Both my parents hold very conservatives views about society, economics, and relationships, but my father is quite keen about education and advancements in technology. He would buy random cheap gizmos and gadgets off Taobao and tamper around with them, something failed to be appreciated by mother. 

I took after my father much more. When I was younger (with of more schoolboy appearance and hairstyle), people will often comment on our resemblance on appearance and the way we carry ourselves. Even over the long periods he was overseas, others can often feel his presence through me. It definitely wasn’t comfortable to live in his shadow.

Maybe from one point onward, I made a conscious decision to be not like him. I guess I found out that parents and adults aren’t exactly flawless, much earlier than my peers. My father’s are extremely apparent in his interaction with my mother. My mother is much less educated, way more emotion driven and impulsive, despite being a rather capable woman otherwise. While my father is….quite the opposite of patriarchal when my mother is involved. It also doesn’t help that he spent a whole decade being an expat overseas, leaving the major decisions to be held by my mother for the time.

I think that’s the core reason for why I cannot empathize with feminism. On top of that, my conscious decision didn’t exactly work out...I am still rather easily intimidated by my mother and any women that is similar to her. I hope this tendency doesn’t linger for life.

Like many of those in my generation, our fates kinda depended on our parents learning that the rules have changed, and us becoming lawyers, doctors, bankers, and engineers are no longer the only successful ways in life. The list kinda became longer and more inclusive. This is not to say that everyone are more supportive of our aspirations regardless of what they are (contrary to what they often claim, I might add), but as long as you are lucky enough to dream to be something they like or classify as “okay la” in their heads, you are pretty set.

For me though, that was not always the case. My values about career aspirations was largely inherited from my father. Study well and grabbing the ‘A’s should be a priority, everything else comes second. I know this statement has fundamentally terrible implications, but in essence it is sound advice. Having good grades widens opportunities for whatever aspirations I am going to have (although I often imagine that I definitely make a better son in their eyes if I am in, say, medical school, law school or actuarial science programs). Then again, I am not that of a great listener when it comes to family, so my actual path was more wayward than they planned for me. But that’s for another post. For now, let’s just say that I see the change in rules which they did not.

But at the same time, I didn’t develop much hobbies. I did not develop the habit of sports or for classic games like chess. I attended organ and piano lessons which I hated and wasted 8-9 years worth of lessons. The passion only returned at a much later time. The rest of my routine involves mostly tuition and spoken word classes where my parents hoped would magically pull up my grades and qualifications.

My salvation comes from reading, video games, and later on the Internet. Those were the only things that kept me sane and connected with friends and the world. You can imagine my parents were not too supportive of the latter two, which is still a source of tension between us until now. My life outside classes mainly revolves around the conflict between my hobbies and parents’ wishes, and had no room for anything else.

So, yeah. I pretty much drew a very rough picture of the circumstances I came from. Future writings should center on smaller aspects, which I probably can talk more about.


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