March 7, 2023 · 6:56 pm
Growing up, my mother expected perfection from me. As a child, I found her constant evaluation hurtful and invalidating, especially when combined with her general emotional abuse. Even though I considered academics more as a ticket to escape my mother than as a metric of my self-worth, I think I internalized my mother’s voice a bit, like when I cried after getting a 4 instead of a perfect 5 on the AP Biology exam, even though I didn’t really care about biology at all.
A little while ago I read about the success frame, a concept created by sociologists Dr. Jennifer Lee and Dr. Min Zhou. A simplified version of their argument: Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants in the United States expect their children to graduate from an elite university with an advanced degree and a job that can net a sizable income; achieving this isn’t special, it’s expected. Reading about this framework helped me understand my mother’s view of me and how I consider my own accomplishments. Continue reading →
October 9, 2022 · 10:27 am
Throughout most of my PhD program, I provided therapy two days a week. I liked this setup: I enjoyed the empathy, compassion, and interpersonal acuity of therapy, then on the other days I found satisfaction conducting research, teaching, or engaging in some form of mentorship or advocacy. The flexibility of my schedule helped me avoid getting stressed; I could go on a jog at 2pm on a weekday and work on my research during the weekends
instead of dating and settling for a mediocre man, reading multiple books by mediocre white male authors, knowing how to put together furniture, etc.
Now, on residency, I provide therapy for more than two days a week. I still love the therapy and want to keep at it after I get my PhD, and at the same time I want to go back to a more research and teaching-focused schedule after this year – which aligns with how I have applied for a ton of academic and research positions starting in summer or fall of 2023. While I feel comfortable with my path, over the past few weeks I have talked with my friends and supervisors about the question: does not wanting to do therapy full time make me a bad person?
It’s obvious that this question is a cognitive distortion for many reasons. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal
Tagged as appetites, caroline knapp, emotional intelligence, family, intelligence, introspection, mental health, ptsd, self-reflection, therapy, trauma
April 17, 2022 · 8:13 pm
I signed a lease for an apartment in Cambridge last week! While I felt relieved after receiving the final confirmation email, the stress about moving itself soon sunk in: I have so much random sh*t strung about every nook and cranny of my apartment, I lack any sense of where to obtain boxes to pack this random sh*t once I get it together, and I still need to figure out how to attain furniture for my new place. I have told my friends over the past week or so that I feel stress adjacent – not stressed, because of my intensive use of emotion regulation strategies, though approaching stress, because moving blows.
On one level, I think I may feel stress adjacent because of just how much logistical effort moving entails. However, today, I made a to-do list of sorts to orient myself. Figure out where to get boxes. Ask about the parking situation at your apartment complex. Get rid of old clothes. Make a plan to procure furniture. Find a new hair stylist in the Boston area.
Sacrifice your values and seduce a rich man of color to finance your life so you can afford a 1bed/1bath right on the Charles River, an apartment filled with books and far from the man himself.
When I paused to self-reflect on my stress adjacency today, I thought about the urgency I felt throughout my childhood. Continue reading →
January 25, 2020 · 10:42 am
The other day I had a breakdown in my car on my way back home from a super fun tennis match. This breakdown began when I started to reflect on a friend breakup that happened throughout the latter half of 2019, about a kind, soft-hearted friend who dated a man and grew to depend on him. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal
Tagged as growth, heteronormativity, introspection, mental health, mental illness, self-awareness, self-care, self-compassion, self-kindness, self-love, trauma
April 12, 2019 · 5:15 pm
Four years ago, a man I loved broke my heart. We met as freshmen hallmates at my undergraduate college, his room at the end of the dorm and mine more toward the middle. We grew into close friends after a few intimate conversations and decided to room together our sophomore year. In the early spring semester of my sophomore year, he told me he did not want our friendship anymore, that he would never care about me as much as I cared about him. He said that I cared too much about him. He said I expected too much.
Now, I understand he took advantage of me throughout the friendship. I remember one of our conversations early freshman year, while walking down Colonial Williamsburg at night fall, the air crisp and fireflies illuminating our path. At one point he told me that he felt impressed by me because I cared so much about people, because he himself struggles to actually care about people. At the time, I found this inspiring: wow, he struggles to care about people and wants to learn how, that’s so deep and self-aware. So, over the next year and a half, I tried to teach him. He would fail and I would feel hurt. I took on the role of his therapist instead of asserting more healthful boundaries. He saw before I did that he would never meet my expectations, so he ended our friendship.
“He literally told me from the start that he doesn’t care about people, which is like, the reddest red flag that’s ever been red,” I told my therapist the other day. “I was so freaking stupid for having ever trusted him, for caring about him.”
My therapist said all the right things: that it wasn’t my fault because I didn’t know as much about abuse then, that I’m so much more empowered and self-aware now. Yet I struggled to believe her. Continue reading →
March 3, 2014 · 8:33 pm
Back in junior year of high school, my AP US History teacher scared the heck out of everyone. I think he liked me well enough, but I recall how every time he would ask a question – what was the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo? why did Andrew Jackson shut down the National Bank? – all my classmates and I would look down at our notes, afraid of making eye contact. One day, he asked a different type of question.
“How much good do I have to do?” he asked. “I work hard to teach you guys, I do my best to be a good husband to my wife and a good father to my kids. But how much more am I responsible for?”
As a freshman in college, that question still gets to me. Continue reading →
December 29, 2012 · 3:27 pm
I’m seventeen and I don’t know how to drive a car. Every time I see two parents talking to one another without screaming, I gaze in awe. I haven’t gone to Prom and I doubt that I will.
Sometimes I wonder how my childhood would have been if not for my mom. What would it have been like to grow up in an environment entrenched in caring as opposed to cruelty? Which friends might I have met, who might have I turned out to be, what might I have done? With only a few months left before my eighteenth birthday, every chance I have to experience an average life is slipping away. Continue reading →