We are raised to follow our culture’s set of values
Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash
As an Asian American and a millennial, I was born into a world that was different than my parent's. The culture I was born into is different than where my parents were born and raised. I'd assume most of you would agree, but a clash between Asian and American cultures may have made us question how we were raised.
Back when my parents lived in Indonesia, their parents had high standards for their children, and the expectation was to do well in school to find a stable and high-paying job to support a family. That, in turn, resulted in my parents having the same expectations for me.
When I was in school, I wasn't ever really an A-student. I mainly received B's and C's throughout my entire school years. (Remember the grading system: Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, & Needs Improvement? I got plenty of Satisfactory and Needs Improvement).
I eventually got a full-time job as a software engineer after graduating college. It was considered a high-paying job. My parents, relatives, and a ton of their friends were all so proud of me. To them, it was a great accomplishment, and I should be proud of myself.
But in 2019, after my cousin passed away, something in me changed. I no longer strove for more money and a higher status in the company. I started valuing fulfillment in my work and happiness. I wanted to focus more on sharing my struggles and lessons learned to inspire and guide others to live a life more focused on their values, purpose, & mental health. My new set of values conflicted with my culture's set of values.
That conflict really affected me negatively. To be honest, more than I ever thought it would.
Imagine being raised to follow a set of values that revolved around money & prestige. Now imagine heading in that direction and realizing that those aren't really what you care about. I felt that exact same experience, and it tore me apart because I spent almost 30 years working towards those goals.
Being pulled by different sets of values was draining. Even with the support from my parents and relatives, I wasn't sure whether society would accept me and the direction I was heading.
The catalyst to discover your values
Talking about these feelings with a therapist really helped me get over a lot of these mindsets. During my sessions, I'd have several epiphanies that have guided me to where I am now.
I stopped fearing other people's opinions and focused more on staying true to my new set of values.
I began to redefine my own definition of success that was different than what my culture and society defined.
And now that money & prestige doesn't drive me anymore, I learned to be more gentle and patient with myself throughout the journey of rediscovering what my purpose is in life.
I hope to inspire those who want to live a life based on their values, their purpose, and maintain a healthy mental well-being throughout the journey. That's why I'm sharing my story.
For those of you who have felt conflicted between your values and what your culture or society values, I HIGHLY suggest talking it out with a therapist. Some will coach you through similar epiphanies with your own values, and some will just offer an open ear for you to talk it through yourself.
No matter what, you start to get deeper into your feelings and your values will come out from them.
Understanding what it takes
Before you try therapy, I'd preface that it will require you to be open to self-reflection and self-honesty. You will get deep into your experiences with your family, your culture, and your life thus far. It will be tough, and sometimes you won't know where to start. Sometimes, it will hurt to bring up some of these experiences.
From my own experience, journaling and meditation are great ways to complement therapy. Asking yourself the right questions will bring out the right answers. And keeping a calm and cleared mind afterward lets you come back to the present moment.
As a disclaimer, I'm not a therapist, and I'm not a psychologist. I don't pretend I know enough about mental health to help people like a therapist does.
My goal is to share my own experiences with mental health and therapy to break the stigma about them. Not only for Asian American Millennials, but for everyone.