Tag Archives: self-compassion

Queer Asian Confidence

Sometimes I struggle to honor my strengths. I have pretty high self-compassion and self-esteem, I just don’t like acknowledging what I’m good at. For example, I’m starting my fourth year of training as a psychologist. In my most recent therapy evaluation, my supervisor commended my “ability to connect with clients and make them feel safe with [me].” She also wrote that I have “an intuitive approach that is bolstered by [a] strong theoretical orientation… influenced by a multicultural lens, feminist therapy, ACT and CBT, and interpersonal process,” as well as an openness and genuineness that helps clients feel connected to me. Though I recognize my clients’ growth, I still think: am I actually good at this?

Even though I can grow in honoring my strengths, I like my modesty a lot. I think it stems from Asian values of humility, as well as not wanting to be like other men who have an inflated sense of their abilities. Instead of searching for the spotlight, I can spend more time honing my empathy, social justice advocacy, and mentoring. Still, internalizing modesty to an extreme may have its downsides. My supervisor also wrote in her evaluation, “I think Thomas is always a bit surprised at the progress of his clients, as he sometimes doubts that he is a good, actually excellent, therapist. I encourage his humility, but also think he would benefit from receiving the fact that he is very skilled and capable.”

Upon reflecting about my supervisor’s comments for the past several weeks, I feel like a lot of my hesitancy to own my strengths stems from my queer Asian male identity. Continue reading

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Defining Myself for Myself

A couple weeks ago I joined a collective of radical leftist Asian/Pacific Islanders in the DC area, to plug into a community of fellow APIs and can contribute to social justice. Though I feel unsure about how much time I will invest in this specific group with everything else I have going on, I like the unapologetically leftist energy I have encountered so far. In particular, I appreciate sharing space with and witnessing Asian Americans who care about and take action to promote social justice. I feel rejuvenated taking part in this group after growing up in a high school with a lot of Asian Americans who internalized the model minority myth and focused more on grades than dismantling systems of oppression, myself included.

In this space though, I sometimes think about a former crush of mine and feel concerned. This guy, on paper at least, had organized for leftist causes and taken direct action to promote social justice. At the same time, he really hurt my feelings and from what I can discern the feelings of at least a few others as well. In my first group video chat with this new organization, I could not help but wonder to myself: who of you act to promote radical social justice yet hurt the people you engage with on an interpersonal level? And if I engage further with this organization, will you somehow hurt me? 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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I Roasted Him

A couple of weeks ago I talked with my therapist about AWLOB and how I felt bad about the last message I sent him. In July 2019, when I asked if we could talk on the phone for an hour, he said no and that there “might be” a point we could talk way later, “perhaps,” when we could “potentially” be friends. I did not feel hurt that he set a boundary, because we should all have the autonomy to choose to communicate or not communicate with anyone in our lives. I felt hurt because several months ago he said that he had a crush on me I hope you all realize how painfully vulnerable it is for me to admit that I liked him having a crush on me lol brb gonna throw myself in a volcano now and that at some point we would talk, and then, all of a sudden, he retracted that with no explanation.

So I roasted him. Continue reading

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Queer Asian Boys Do Not Live to Suck White Cock

Yesterday in the middle of a Coronavirus-inspired haze, I found myself indoors watching dirty videos. It all felt fun and pleasurable until I came across this comment:

racist comment about gay asian men

In all honesty, when I first saw that racist comment, I just exited that webpage and found a better use of my time. I feel sad admitting this, but the comment did not surprise me. A lot of people have written about how queer Asian men are fetishized and perceived as subservient by white gays, and I’ve already written about how we as queer Asian men are socialized to desire a white man’s love. This racist comment made me roll my eyes but did not elicit more emotion than that.

Today though, I remembered this comment while out on a socially distant jog. And suddenly I felt pissed. Continue reading

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Never Too Late

Sometimes I behave like a hot mess. For example, I have a few regrets about how I handled the AWLOB shenanigans of 2019. He messaged me, we started talking, I developed a crush on him, we stopped talking, then he messaged me saying he broke up with his boyfriend and had a crush on me and needed space to heal from his relationship ending. Looking back, it’s clear what I should’ve done: accept that he’s emotionally unavailable at the time, wish him the best in his healing process, and give him space while moving on with my life.

Instead, I literally messaged him three separate times across the span of six months. Continue reading

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More Good News

In my six-year doctoral program, our last year consists of a year-long internship in which we provide therapy full time. The process to determine which site we will conduct our internship at works kinda like the med school residency application process. We apply to different sites, they extend interview offers, and after we interview, they rank us and we rank them. Every year, on “match day,” my doctoral program directors send an email to the entire program detailing which students matched at which sites. Everyone shares their congratulations. It feels wholesome.

This year, a faculty member sent an additional email to everyone in the program with the subject line “More good news on an already fine day for our interns…” In the email, this faculty member shared how one of his former students recently had his second child. Attached to the photos were pictures of this student and his children.

While I felt positive about this news – I really like this former student, because he’s into social justice in a quiet way where he walks the walk about it without showing off – I also felt a little perturbed at the arbitrariness of this email. Like, are we all so into the heteronormative nuclear family that we think “more good news” consists solely of sharing pictures of students who have children with their spouses? I don’t feel turned off by celebrating someone having kids, though I do think we can widen what constitutes good news: how about the grad student of color who’s fought through imposter syndrome that stemmed from racism in academia? How about the grad student who’s learned how to feel happiness on their own and their chosen communities, outside of a romantic partner? How about the grad student who enjoyed their Friday night watching Itzy music videos no, these are all not just slowly morphing into descriptions of me?

Because I’m super into sharing about how I cultivate a fulfilled life outside of romance and the heteronormative nuclear family – even though I may want a child of my own someday – I want to share about my iconic weekend. Continue reading

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Growing My Own Garden

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

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Worthy of Me (His Loss)

I grew up as a pretty girly guy. Ever since a young age, I liked pink and floral colors and designs, gravitated toward female television and video game characters, and hung out almost all the time with girls. I derived a lot of benefits from this association with the feminine: empathy, communication skills, valuing softness over brute force. At the same time, I also encountered the message that I should want boys to like me, or that desire always flowed in one direction: other boys did the desiring, whereas I desired the desire of other boys.

Until I grew into my own social justice awakening and until I met my bff Bri in undergrad, my female friends and I would often interpret a guy’s rejection as a fault of our own. If a guy did not exhibit interest in us, we took it as a sign that we did something wrong. Maybe we cared too much. Maybe we should weigh less. Maybe we expected too much communication. Some of my friends and I analyzed the motives of men with the ferocity of rabid chihuahuas, bloodthirsty for emotional intimacy and care. We gossiped about whether their past relationships and traumas inhibited their capacity to connect. We strategized on ways to conduct ourselves to maximize their comfort and openness.

underbelly in san diego iconic meal

Things more iconic than spending time on emotionally under-developed men #313: eating iconic Asian food while reading in San Diego during a conference! This took place in October, at the restaurant Underbelly. The pork belly bao buns were iconic.

Imagine my surprise when a cisgender, heterosexual white male acquaintance of mine in undergrad did the exact opposite. Continue reading

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