Full disclosure: my parents are wonderful and kind people. Their approach has change drastically over the years, and now, we are finally in a “conventional” state.
Growing up as an Asian-American, I struggle with unwanted emotions and how to react in unpleasant situations.
I guess you can also say, scholarly, there was a lack of “emotional intelligence” in my upbringing. In our household, my parents always held themselves together – strong figures, and extremely different nurturing styles compared to what you see on television. My childhood was nowhere near or resembled Fuller House.
Hugs were rare and feelings were hardly discussed. Hugs and verbal acknowledgments were only exchanged during milestones: honor rolls, graduations, etc. Sentences as “I am so proud of you” were saved for big occasions like Graduation. For the semester grades, the expectations of passing with flying with colors were embedded in us before we even started our education careers.
My siblings and I were conditioned with a “suck it up” attitude. My Dad always told me, “Don’t cry” growing up. We don’t cry about our problems, and we don’t cry over dumb shit. Both my parents were very persistent about not crying over boys. What we were taught to do was to “move on.” There was no such thing as wallowing, or dealing with whatever it was. The act of crying is almost foreign in our home.
Because of this, you can see why and how my siblings and I are the way we are – we didn’t know better.
Often, society associates crying as a form of weakness. It’s a strange thought, though – as an adult I am learning how to feel and deal with the natural not-so-pretty emotions: sadness, anger, disappointment, etc. I even cry now in happy moments, this was a whole new level I’ve reached. With the reminders from friends, it took me a very long time to accept that crying only means I am human and is not a sign of weakness.
It’s fucking okay to cry!
I want to close with this: when we express our emotions too much, there is a backlash. I know people have mixed reviews for Kanye’s 808’s & Heartbreak album because it was a sentimental side of him – what does our society say about having emotions?
You know when you say, “I hate that I feel this way” when you are referring to an unwanted emotion. A phrase that subtly implies that our emotions aren’t valid or aren’t worth recognizing. Says a lot about our society though and how having emotions is stigmatized of some sort.
Honestly, fuck it.