Tag Archives: resilience

Michael and Julian

Sometimes I worry about how much I write about men on this blog. Omg, I think to myself, Do my negative two readers imagine me as a Gaysian who sits in their apartment, stares at the wall for hours on end, waiting for a man of color to rail them as Blackpink plays in the background? When I let myself feel this concern for a bit, I recognize that what my readers think of me matters less to me than what I think of myself: can I practice self-kindness about my attraction to men?

“If my attraction to men were a flower,” I told my therapist in our most recent session, “I feel like I’d either want it to bloom fully, or I’d want it not to exist. Like I’d either want to date a guy or just not be attracted to men at all.”

“Let’s run with this analogy,” my therapist said, her voice challenging yet warm. “I feel like you’ve been doing a really nice job of nurturing the flower.”

She may have been referring to how I have gone on four dates with three different cute Asian guys within the past month. Continue reading

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Reaction

The other day I encountered someone whose behavior reminded me of my mother. They engaged in love bombing and projection, using compassionate words in a way that came across as coercive. When I recognized the similarity to my mother, I felt my body tense up and a slight fear uncoil in my stomach. I remembered how much my mother terrorized me day after day as a child and how little power I had to stop her.

I feel proud of myself because I chose to disengage. Continue reading

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Queer Asian Joy

The other day I took a break from doing research and listened to “Red Flavor” by Red Velvet, a summery, shimmery K-Pop song from 2017. While this masterpiece of a summer song filled my mind with its dynamic beats and addictive melodies, I reflected on the overall quality of my life because instead of being able to do useful things in the external world like cook or put together furniture, I introspect. One of my best friends and I finished a super fun rewatch of Avatar: The Last Airbender a few days ago, and I ordered my other best friend a colorful customized cake for her 25th birthday. I enjoy the taste of food without guilt – shout out to fruity yogurt with citrus-flavored snacks – and savor the stretch and tautness of my body when I play tennis. I feel connected to my online community and bask in my vibrant red hair. When I thought about all of this, I realized: wow, I feel a lot of joy in my life right now.

At first, I felt some guilt for feeling joy. Continue reading

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She Hurt Me

I like to think of myself as a pretty empowered person. While I recognize the importance of collective liberation over individual empowerment, I value my empowerment in terms of defying stereotypes about submissive gay Asian men. A few weeks ago, though, I found myself struggling to integrate this idea of an empowered self with another part of my life: the abuse and hurt people have put me through, especially my mother.

My angst reached a crescendo the day after my birthday, as I sat on my couch listening to “Break Free” by Ariana Grande. Continue reading

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25 and Powerful

Feeling powerful scared me for a long time. Growing up, my mother and brother both yelled a lot. My mother would scream at me for almost anything I did, all the time, and I usually ended up crying in the bathroom of my basement or in my grandmother’s arms. My brother would scream back at my mother and they would sometimes yell at each other for hours, though I remember him crying too. This emotional abuse frightened me so much that I promised I would never act like my mother or my brother, that I would never express anger or even be angry, ever.

This fear of anger and power changed when I went to therapy in undergrad. Continue reading

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People and Their Feelings

I have always loved people and their feelings. My family told me that I did not make a sound until I turned two years old, because I spent so much time sitting and watching other people. As a kid, I felt drawn to television and video game characters who used magic to heal others, like Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Though I did not have the words for it then, around the age of eight I sensed that I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up, if not a writer. My then best friend in high school and I loved playing amateur psychoanalyst, such that we would spend hours talking about our peers and our families and fictional characters and their emotions, their relationships, and what drove their behavior.

Flash forward to now, over a decade after I started high school: I provide therapy*, and I feel guilty about it. Continue reading

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Dreamland

In high school, I dreamed so much about going to college. I identified my top choice university my freshman year and worked my butt off the next four years to get in. I took tons of honors and advanced placement courses, I studied SAT vocab words while running on the treadmill to Lady Gaga and 2NE1, and I talked with my friends all the time about this school. While on one hand I saw college as the next step in my dream to becoming a psychologist, I also viewed it as an escape from my abusive mother. I saw college as a dreamland where I could free myself from her endless shouting and screaming and escape into freedom, into pure bliss.

I got into my dream school. But it turned out that college kinda like, sucked though. I spent my first year and a half in an unfulfilling, borderline-abusive friendship. Then when that friendship ended, post-traumatic stress disorder hit me like a brick. I cried in a lot of bathroom stalls and meditated in the midst of panic attacks in many others. I wanted pure bliss and got a ton of mess instead.

But not all of college sucked. Continue reading

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For My Grandmother

A few hours ago, I watched The Farewell with a few friends then cried almost the whole metro and car ride home. The film is about a 30-year-old Chinese American woman named Billi who returns to China to say goodbye to her grandmother, who only has a few weeks left to live. In one scene, Billi confronts her mom about her grief and tells her that chasing fireflies with her grandmother is one of the only happy memories Billi carries with her from her childhood.

Similar to Billi, spending time with my grandmother is one of the only happy memories from my own childhood. Continue reading

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I Love Myself, I Love My Friends, I Love My Life Without Romance: Thank You to “Against the Couple Form”

Last weekend, I sat in the Chicago O’Hare airport sipping a Caribbean Passion smoothie from Jamba Juice when a friend sent me the essay “Against the Couple Form.” I opened it, expecting an okay analysis of living life without a romantic partner, but instead, I found one of the most radical, validating pieces of writing in my entire life.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I care a lot about finding, cultivating, and maintaining love and connection outside of romance, in particular outside of romantic relationships with men. But fighting the patriarchal, heteronormative narrative that I need a man to complete me – the story sold to us by Disney movies, dating apps, and the wedding industrial complex – can feel lonely. It feels lonely when the majority of students in my graduate program and one of my feminist book clubs heavily prioritize romance and/or their romantic partners. It feels lonely when people post about their weddings and engagements and no one comments or adds a disclaimer about the problematic origins and implications of marriage. It feels lonely when people view my anger about the over prioritization of romance as a symptom of some unresolved internal pathology, as opposed to a justified emotion that acts as a reaction against the oppression of femmes, women, and all those who want to thrive outside of an antiquated social more.

But when my friend sent me the essay “Against the Couple Form,” I felt so validated and happy. Continue reading

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Tennis Helped Transform Me from Sad and Lonely to Righteously Angry at the Patriarchy

My current crush fell in love with another man last fall. We agreed to stop talking a couple of weeks ago, so he could have space to figure his life out. Who knows if he will reach out again. I spent a lot of last week sad about this, listening to melodramatic Ariana Grande and Jason Derulo songs and posting angsty selfies on Snapchat. On top of that, I felt that one of my friends had not been putting as much effort into our friendship as I had, and when I expressed this, she did not react well. I also waited to hear back from an internship I wanted yet received no word about. To describe my emotions with great eloquence: everything sucked.

Two Tuesday nights ago, as I moped about V – my crush who said he also had a crush on me and also fell in love with someone else – I went to one of my weekly tennis leagues. Continue reading

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