April 26, 2023 · 8:49 am
I turn 28 next month, which activated an early-onset midlife crisis. Not to be a Capitalist Connor or a Girlboss Greg, but in the career domain, I’ve crushed it. I progressed directly from high school to the honors program at a mildly reputable undergrad, from undergrad to a fully-funded Psych PhD program, from my PhD to my residency in the Boston area, from residency to my tenure-track job. I faced bumps along the way though thanks to both my privilege and my perseverance, nothing stopped me. Reflecting on this relative smooth sailing made me feel angsty when I thought: then why haven’t I found a queer man of color to
[REDACTED] with me form a long-lasting romantic relationship with?
I first felt some self-judgment and shame. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal
Tagged as coping, gay, gina chung, grief, life, loss, mental health, relationships, romance, sea change, vulnerability
April 8, 2023 · 9:00 pm
The other day I stumbled upon the google scholar profile of an ex-friend from undergrad. I met this ex-friend, P, my first year of undergrad, where we lived in the same honors dormitory. I felt drawn to him because of his smarts: he won one of the four full-ride, academic merit-based tuition scholarships for our year. Even more than his brains, I appreciated his affability – he had this happy-go-lucky, friendly attitude that made him likeable to people. We both enjoyed reading and identified as Asian American men, though we differed in that I always exuded a more intense, purposeful energy with strong opinions about right and wrong, whereas he came across as more laid-back and flexible.
We talked about academia and research a lot. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal
Tagged as academia, breakup, family, father, friendship, insight, parents, relationships, research, self-reflection, trauma
March 1, 2023 · 11:05 am
In the academic department I’ll join later this year, everyone except me has a child. Seeing this reminded me of stigmatizing comments I’ve received about staying childfree, like an ex-friend who once said that my nurturing and feminist spirit would be wasted if I didn’t have a kid. I also thought of one of my past therapy supervisors who told me about how because she doesn’t have a kid, her former coworkers expected her to do more work, as if she didn’t have other things to do with her time.
To cope with this childfree stigma, I searched “childfree” in the Podcast app of my new iPhone and found the amazing “The Childfree Girls Podcast,” where three women living in different countries talk amongst themselves and with guests about being childfree. I’ve felt so validated after listening to just a few of their episodes. Continue reading →
January 28, 2023 · 7:06 am
A couple of years ago, I went on a date with a Filipino guy after I submitted my residency applications. We met at an Asian restaurant in northern Virginia sometime in December, late in the evening. We sat down, started eating, and talked about our work situations, music tastes, and dating histories. When I told him that I hadn’t dated a man long-term yet, he said “that’s surprising,” especially because I had been 26 at the time.
“What’s surprising about that?” I asked him. Continue reading →
January 19, 2023 · 2:58 pm
A few weeks ago, a cousin I have not spoken to for about a decade invited me to his wedding in Hawaii. I knew almost right away that I would decline the invitation. Yet, I felt guilty about saying no. I talked with one of my best friends about it a few hours after receiving the invitation which helped me feel better, and I decided to donate $30 to my cousin’s honeymoon fund instead. Still, his ask and my reaction to it lingered with me.
I felt a small drop of guilt for a few hours after I made up my mind to say no even though I had several strong reasons not to attend. Continue reading →
August 17, 2022 · 10:14 pm
Several years ago, I met a woman in college who I will call P. P told me about how her boyfriend, K, once scheduled a virtual call to catch up with one of his best friends. His best friend did not show up to the call and did not let K know in advance. When I asked P if K intended to let his best friend know how this failure to attend the call affected K’s feelings, P shrugged and said that K did not have that type of relationship with this best friend. When P told me this, I thought to myself, no wonder K relies so much on P for his emotional support, if he does not even bring up with his best friends when they hurt his feelings.
This behavior reminds me of people who devalue friendship and prioritize their romantic partners. Earlier in my 20’s I would get more upset about this, and though I still do detest amatonormativity I think my feelings have softened. I suspect this softening has occurred because of how close I feel with my two best friends, both of whom I have had stable deep bonds with for several years now. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal, Society
Tagged as amatonormativity, fleabag, friendship, love, platonic, platonic love, relationships, secure attachment, security, trust
July 29, 2022 · 7:46 pm
Several months ago I sat in a virtual meeting with several other researchers of color. We talked about our different potential career paths and where we envisioned ourselves in the future. At one point, a woman mentioned that she wanted a faculty position because she enjoys research. She paused for a moment, and then she said “… and because I like to win.”
I admit I first felt a bit judgmental when she said that. That’s so competitive and capitalist, I thought to myself at the time. If I had been in a Natalie Tran YouTube video, I might have asked, “so do you like to stomp on your enemies and laugh with glee as you out-publish and out-grant them, catapulting them into a doom spiral surrounded by their own incompetence?” (Obviously I’m joking because this person is generally really nice.)
Though the comment took me aback when she said it, upon reflection, I actually find it kind of refreshing. Continue reading →
April 9, 2022 · 5:29 pm
I remember sitting at the kitchen table of my childhood home, sometime in middle school or high school, listening to my mom talk about two college-aged Vietnamese kids she knew through her friend circle. They had been dating – a young woman who went to Virginia Tech and a young man who turned down Cornell to follow her. They had broken up, and my mom shared the news in an excited yet hushed tone, even though only she and I occupied the kitchen. I wonder if he regrets turning down the Ivy League, I recall my mom saying. What a waste, she said, to follow someone to a school like Virginia Tech and for it not to even work out.
Whenever my mom praised prestigious colleges and the people who attended them, I always rolled my eyes on the inside. Continue reading →
February 9, 2022 · 5:21 pm
The femmephobic guy I mentioned in my most recent post also told me that he found me unattractive because of internalized colorism. “all my past relationships were with pale skinned east Asian guys rip” he texted me. He shared that he did not have a specific plan to work through his internalized colorist sexual preferences.
I first felt a surge of anger. Continue reading →
January 21, 2022 · 12:01 pm
The other day I spoke with an older Gaysian guy I respect. He first gave me some advice about my Psychology residency application process, and our conversation later turned to topics such as the political roots of queer Asian men’s romantic desires. He expressed some ideas about white supremacy and transracial adoption I hadn’t yet put into words, which I appreciated.
At one point, though, as we talked about how internalized racism may motivate fellow Gaysian men to date white men, he said something along the lines of: “well, if gay Asian men don’t have any other options around them, is it their fault to be with a white man even if he’s basic or a fetishizer? It’s like Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games, it’s not like they had a choice to kill other people. I’m not saying it’s the ideal scenario, but if gay Asian men don’t have other options, I’m not sure I blame them.”
I want to make it clear that I do not think this older Gaysian himself endorsed the idea of Gaysian men settling for white men (just in case this Gaysian somehow happens to stumble upon this blog post, I think you’re rad and cool and otherwise wouldn’t have reached out to you!) However, I felt struck by the logic underlying this analogy, that not having any romantic prospects removes you of your agency to the same extent as being forced to kill other people against your will by a totalitarian police state. And yet, I have heard the same sentiment uttered by a less rad older queer Asian man
who is now engaged to a white man who couldn’t hold a conversation on his own when I met him, uh yikes, that it’s not about if you’ll settle, it’s about who you’ll eventually settle for.
What strikes me as most bizarre about this idea that you have to settle for the romantic prospects in your geographic area, is the implicit notion that you have to settle for a romantic prospect at all. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal, Society
Tagged as amatonormativity, caroline knapp, dating, empowerment, friendship, liberation, mental health, relationships, romance, self-love