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…

After living abroad in Paris for four years, I decided it was time to return to Los Angeles

I lived abroad in Paris for almost four years. I arrived through a master’s degree program and transitioned to the French workforce, living the Parisian lifestyle for a few years before I decided to move back to the U.S. I found myself simultaneously near burnout and not adequately challenged in my corporate job when I decided to quit and trade my life of security for a more vagabond lifestyle as an expat. It wasn’t easy by any means. It was challenging, stimulating, exhilarating, and frustrating. I came out of the experience more confident in myself, more cultured, and more in…

I’ve let disrespectful behaviors slowly sabotage my relationships in the past. Not anymore!

Photo credit: Mental Health America

“How does it feel when your feelings are run over like that?” I pictured a truck with big wheels driving over me.

“I feel mute. Like I said something but it didn’t make a difference. I was ignored.” I told my therapist.

“And how’s that?” she replied.

“I feel angry and powerless. Like I want to go up to the person and shout, ‘Hey! Listen to me!’”

Respect is the most important ingredient in romantic relationships, yet I find many examples of disrespect in my relationships, romantic or otherwise. Most of the time, the disrespecter isn’t being malicious. They may…

Job hunting used to send me into a panic spiral, but now it’s an opportunity for me to present my best self confidently

Photo credit: Rodnae Productions

The thought of having to search for a job used to send me into a panic spiral. Shallow breathing. Tension in my body. The critical inner voices would come all at once, “What if I never find a job that fits me? What if I don’t get the right credentials for any job? What if no one calls me back for an interview? What if I’m the last one to find a job? That’s so embarrassing! What if I get paid very little at the job?” I was captive in a binding panic that wouldn’t subside. It got marginally better…

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. …

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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