I overcame feelings of being alone and empty which stemmed from a lack of emotional guidance from my parents

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio

“If you start feeling overwhelmed, just call me and we’ll arrange something. You are not alone.” It was my last session with my therapist before I returned home for the holidays. I was excited to be going home, but I was also anxious because I found my parents’ household stressful. Although we had a session scheduled during the last week of my trip home, my therapist insisted that I could call her if I ever reached a point when it was becoming too much for me at home. She assured me she genuinely wanted to make sure I’d be fine…


I’m not perfect. I don’t have to be perfect to be accepted. I don’t have to expect other people to be perfect because, hey, we’re all just human after all.

Photo credit: Prasanth

“Your hair is too long. You’ve gained weight. You’re not sitting up straight. You’re eating too much junk food. Your Chinese is so poor.”

Such are the things I heard repeatedly as a teenage and young adult in my parent’s household. They habitually commented on every little thing that I didn’t do right. The authoritarian, overprotective, and overly critical method of child-rearing was part of my family culture. Their dictatorial attempts to manage my behavior through constant corrections, criticisms, and commentary led me to develop the belief that I had to be perfect and it is not acceptable to my…


By finding my voice and getting comfortable using the word “No”

Photo credit: Mentatdg

I was sitting in the conference room with my boss and the rest of my team. We were discussing an annual project that no one wanted to undertake. It got tossed around like a hot potato every year and it was always a negotiation who would have responsibility for executing it. I had undertaken the project twice already and was in no mood to do it again. One of my coworkers was trying to force it on me though.

“Jennifer, you’re so good at doing this. I think you should lead it again.”

“No, I don’t want to lead that…


By realizing that I’m the emotionally unavailable one

Photo credit: Hoang Loc

I had a repetitive compulsion problem where I kept gravitating towards emotionally unavailable men. They were either not interested and I kept pursuing them despite their lack of interest, or they were interested but only in something casual. They would not be able or willing to commit to something more serious. I realized after some time that these men subconsciously reminded me of my dad in one way or another. The pattern repeated itself several times until I started noticing it and realized I must be making it happen. I’m attracting these types of men for some reason. …


I created positive habits to promote my self-confidence and combat my inner critic, imposter syndrome, and anxiety at work.

Photo credit: Evelina Zhu

The first time I asked for a raise was at my part-time college job. I had been doing the job for two years and thought it was time for a higher salary. Do college jobs even do raises? I didn’t know. But I thought it was worth asking my boss anyway. After all, it only takes a minute and it could lead to better pay for doing the same work. I didn’t think I would lose anything by asking.

It took me two weeks to work up the courage to do it. What should I say? Maybe it’s best to…


I am seeing and appreciating how many things went right in my childhood despite the things that went wrong.

Photo credit: Alex Green

I saw my parents after spending a year and a half apart. I had done a lot of emotional work and therapy in that year and a half, focusing on processing many childhood traumas. Seeing my parents again after all that internal work was in some ways like seeing my parents as my fifteen-year-old self again. I acutely felt my father’s emotional unavailability and stoniness. I felt the anxiety simmering in my mother. I lost touch with these impressions of them over the years when I went off to college and started my professional life, but they were still there…


I found the courage to look honestly at my relationship with my mother and express my real feelings to her

Photo credit: Hoang Chuong

I used to have a very strained relationship with my mother. It was difficult for me to talk to her on the phone for ten minutes without becoming emotional or agitated. I would lose my patience when she accused me of lying (as she did with all family members), micromanaged me, nagged me, made racist comments, and refused to admit she was wrong. I know now these are difficult aspects of her personality that will never change and are just irritations I must deal with. …


I was traumatized by my parent’s constant arguing at home. Twenty years later, I’m finally recovering.

Photo credit: Brady Knoll

I stood at the gates of my weekend Chinese school, waiting to be picked up by my parents. My brother and I spotted their car pulling up and walked over to meet them. As soon as I opened the car door, I was greeted by loud yelling from my mother and father. They were in the middle of a heated argument, which I guess started before they even left the house and drove the five minutes to the school to pick up me and my brother. This was not the first time I found my parents in the middle of…


My mother’s love comes with silent but strong messages that I should not be too happy or fulfilled because she wasn’t.

Photo credit: Singkham

I vividly remember one argument between my parents when I was in middle school. My mother wanted to ballroom dance as a hobby and my father was insecure about it and forbade her. She told him he was welcomed to come with her if he was jealous, but he refused. I watched this spiral into a huge argument between them while I sat on the black leather couch in the living room. I witnessed my mother cry in the middle of a car ride while she wailed that my father was controlling and repressive. I was old enough to comprehend…


I overcame the shame and pride stopping me from asking for help and leaned into vulnerability. It opened up a world of possibilities.

Photo credit: Helena Lopes

This is my most terrible memory. I was standing in front of my dad while he reviewed my report card. I remember the carpet was gray and there was a tall black drawer behind my father. I had gotten my report card a few days ago but held off on showing it to him because I had not gotten straight A’s. After a few days, I finally decided to rip the band-aid off and give it to him. I knew he would be disappointed. He would have some sharp words to say and perhaps give me a lecture. …

Jennifer L.

I write about my experience as a second generation Asian American, mental health, and female empowerment. Contact me at https://jenniferinparis.weebly.com

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