The other day I had a thought spiral about whether I will ever date a man. I felt frustrated, wondering what I had done in my past life (e.g., vote for Ronald Reagan) to deserve my attraction to men, while simmering in the injustice of not having met a man who interests me. When I slowed down and named these thoughts and feelings, I realized: wait a second, I literally don’t care about dating a man. I would be 100% happy if someone told me right now that I will never meet a man I want to date, or if I’d meet this person in ten years, or five. I recognized then that my angst came less from a lack of romance and more so from a lack of control about when and how this person may emerge or not.

A few days ago, I got a text from my bio mom that reminded me of where some of my control issues come from. I first started going to therapy in 2015, and since then I have gone for long periods of time blocking my mom from contacting me for my mental health, though sometimes I unblock her for reasons I should probably introspect about more at a later time, lol. Anyway, I got this text from her a few days ago and it was so passive aggressive, so gaslighty, and so invalidating of my actual feelings that I immediately blocked her again. I then thought to myself: wow, I literally lived with this person for 18 years, in which she would randomly yet consistently yell at me, berate everything I did (e.g., the way I walked, the way I talked, how I poured my milk, my clothes, the girl I dated in high school for six months, etc.), and silence every attempt I made to speak up. No wonder I would want control having lived for so long in an environment where I had none.

Here is a random picture of Asian takeout I got this week, sharing because I ate it with no guilt which is growth from my middle/high school anorexic self! Pork fried rice, pork belly buns, and fried dumplings. All more satisfying than the mediocre men I have encountered throughout my life.

At the same time, I hesitate to simplify my preference for control to only stemming from my mom’s abuse. While that experience may have intensified it, perhaps my brain wiring and temperament predisposed me to wanting control from the start. Also, as an Asian American, I may have internalized my family and society’s message to work hard and grind, which manifests in how on top of I am of my work though I don’t think I’m a top in other situations anyway gonna keep this PG-11 moving forward lol. Finally, I value having a full life outside of my work, so planning and controlling my academic and clinical tasks helps me spend a lot of time with friends, hobbies, and disclosing about my personal life on the internet. I am trying to remind myself though of some of the wonderful things in my life that have emerged without any control on my end, so I will share some in list format here:

1. My two best friends. I met both of these splendorous humans through the part-time jobs I worked in undergrad. I suppose I exerted some control here, such that I chose two jobs that both involved helping people with their writing, which increased the chances of meeting friends who also liked writing and interpersonal relationships. However, if I had entered these jobs a few years earlier or a few years later than I did, I most likely would not have met these folks. Or I would not have met them if I had attended a different university. I feel grateful because these friends’ communicativeness, self-awareness, compassion, independence, and humor fit with my personality and values more than any of the friends I have had in previous stages of my life, though those friends meant a lot to me too.

2. “Lovesick Girls” by Blackpink. I already wrote a whole ass blog post about my love for this song, however I want to reiterate that I really, really, really love this song. I have jogged so many miles listening to this song that if you step foot into Maryland, you will most likely hear a soft, ghostlike rendition of “WE ARE THE LOVESICK GIRLS” emanate from the ground wherever you stand. I love the combination of EDM and acoustic elements, how the song conveys an entire emotional narrative from start to finish, and of course the members’ vocals. And I didn’t even have to do anything for this song to emerge and complete my holy trinity of Blackpink songs, right alongside “As If It’s Your Last” and “How You Like That.” Though I guess through some butterfly effect, the physical crush I had on that one Korean boy in my middle school pre-Algebra class may have motivated Rosé’s father to encourage her to audition for YG. Who knows!

I had to get a new wifi provider this week because my old wifi’s speed was slower than one of my past crush’s willingness to grow as a person (oops), and the really kind man who installed the wifi asked me to name it in that moment. So of course I went with: Blackpink9.

3. Lifechanging books. I named these titles in my previous post. However, I will reiterate that I feel grateful for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson and The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare because I literally experienced like, zero angst recognizing my attraction to other boys in high school because these books helped normalize that. And then I feel grateful for having read Appetites by Caroline Knapp and The Will to Change by bell hooks a few years later because these books emphasized the importance of loving myself without men or external accomplishments and also taught me that men aren’t really impressive enough to care about anyway. While I definitely think these books’ publication were influenced by factors like social justice movements and organizing, I also recognize that I really had no control that they would be available to me in my adolescence and early adulthood. Like if I had been born ten years earlier maybe my “coming out” would have been way more difficult.

Anyway, I write this all to remind myself and any control-oriented folks out there reading this blog that some beautiful things do happen even without our control. I’m not undermining the role of control or agency here – I put in the work to cultivate healthy and deep friendships, to eat and nourish myself so I can appreciate “Lovesick Girls,” to seek out queer and feminist books. At the same time, I’m recognizing that sometimes I can take a step back, wait for whoever or whatever to walk into my life, and breathe.

I know I’ve written about this topic before, however how do you cope with wanting control or not having control in certain areas of your life? How much do you feel like your capacity to withstand not having control stems from early life experiences, personality or temperament, etc.? What makes you also enjoy and appreciate “Lovesick Girls” by Blackpink? Happy to read any general reactions to this post too and until next time!



Filed under Personal

6 responses to “Control

  1. Kartavya Ratate

    Exerting control over every aspect of our lives isn’t easy or even possible at times, and I understand how exhausting that feels, but I am so glad that you’ve been trying to explore healthy ways of dealing with the need to have control and that you’ve also affirmed that you are okay with not necessarily having control at all times. I, too, have been feeling pretty much the same emotions as you. So reading this post comforted me in a way. 

    Lately, for me, it has almost become like a daily ritual: reading your posts and then introspecting while jogging to ‘Pretty Savage’ and ‘As If It’s Your Last’. Besides, re-reading Appetites has also been reassuring me.

    Hope you have a great week ahead. Take care. 🙂 

    • Awwww thanks so much for your affirmation about both the desire for control as well as learning how to relax or let go of that pressure depending on the circumstance! Omg I feel so modest about how reading my posts has become part of your ritual, I’m honored that you’ve read any of them at all. “As If It’s Your Last” is a bop for sure and “Pretty Savage” is great too. Love hearing about different things you’re doing that feel rejuvenating/meaningful/values-congruent for you. Hope your upcoming week ahead is great as well!

  2. First off, keep that mother blocked! I mean, I don’t even know if my parents have had Covid and that is FINE. So you can do that and it doesn’t mean we’re bad people. That’s one place you do need to exert control to protect yourself.

    And naming your need for control and not allowing it to control your body are both brilliant bits of work.

    Also, bao buns. Oh goodness. Fortunately we have a place that does them here.

    Lost all control this week of course with a sudden call up to vaccination appointments. Argh! Logistics, logistics! But we managed – I got my running for the week/month finished and we both booked today off work just in case.

    • Thanks so much for the validation around keeping my bio mom blocked, it means a lot coming from someone who also gets it! We love to see a nuanced and affirming perspective on control which I so appreciate from you. Yes, I remember getting my COVID vaccine required a lot of flexibility and it was quite worth it. I’m so happy to hear that you got yours!

  3. This is one of the topics you write about often. I wonder if it’s part of your affirmation process. Thanks for mentioning those books. I wrote down some of the books you had referenced from previous entries, now I can’t find them.

    When I worry about something, I ask myself if it’s something I can control or influence. If the answer is no, then I tell myself to let it go. It’s not easy because I worry about things since I was a kid.

    One of these days, I’m going to go through your blog, copy out all the strike-throughs and reassemble them into an entry. Yup… just like someone attaching all the pieces of paper from a shredder. I’m positive it’s not gonna be PG-11.

    Have a great week!

    • Yes I definitely think it’s part of my affirmation process, thank you for affirming that Matt! Appreciate the perspective of reflecting on what you can control and what you cannot and then going from there. And haha yeah that one entry with all my strikethroughs will definitely be NC-17 at the minimum which I’m fine with! Live and let live etc. Hope your week is going well so far (:

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