There are certain expectations that people have of you since you were young, or even the second you were born into this world. The very first people to do so would be your family. They raise you in such a way that one day you will become someone that they expected to be; having great grades in academics, having a bright career path, and ultimately have a great life. Who doesn’t want that? But knowing that it takes a sheer amount of luck and hard work, people tend to lower their expectation into a more realistic and achievable standard.
Aside from those general standards, cultural background also factors in. Now, this is where it gets tricky. We all know that each group of ethnicity has its own stereotype. Case in point, someone of a Chinese-descent family is expected to be mad rich and run their own business.
I am the first son from Chinese-descent family. As the oldest of the three brothers, my parents naturally want me to be a great example to my siblings. “Be a good older brother and show them the ropes,” so they say. But it turns out that I’ve never been the brightest at school; C-grade at best on average, while my brothers are in the top 10 or even top 3 in their class. Emotionally, I’m not the strongest either, which makes me not a great example at all.
On top of that, coming from a Chinese-descent background means I am expected to be successful or run my own business. “Why work for others when you can work for yourself? You get more money that way,” my parents told me just a few weeks ago. Sure, I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but it’s not something that anyone can just dive into without any sort of preparation and do well. It’s a wild goose chase at this point. I will give it a shot, but maybe not now or anytime soon in the future.
For the longest time, I tried to be someone that my parents want me to be and despised myself for being the odd one out. Being in such a position has brought me one of the biggest mental exhaustions in my life. Oftentimes I feel like I don’t even belong here. On the other hand, my younger brothers are pretty much how my parents expected them to be. Perform well in academics, work overseas, obedient, yada yada. But luckily, I managed to break through the shell called ‘expectations’. I’m tired of people pointing their finger at me saying, “You have to be like this, that, do this, do that,” as if I don’t have any say in my own life. Sure, it may sound selfish, but if that’s what brings peace to me, I’ll take it any day.
As of this point in life, being the odd one out in the family is nothing new to me. I realized that I don’t have to force myself to be something that I’m not and that’s okay. Every apple doesn’t fall far from its tree, but it may roll down from the hill and be taken away by the coursing river to an uncharted territory. -HL