I know I’m not the first Asian person to say that growing up, being anything less than an overachiever was seen as underperforming — whether it be by my parents, by the school, or by my peers. It was what I was used to and what was expected of me. A story I like to tell my non-Asian friends to make this crystal clear is one that I’m sure many other Asian kids have told their friends and partners.
One day, I came home from school. I was elated that I had gotten an 85% on a test. I showed my test proudly to my parents. My mom replied, “85%? Why didn’t you get 90%?”
The next test, I managed to get 90%. I walked proudly back home and showed my mom the test. She replied, “Why didn’t you get 95%?”
At some point, you realize that you cannot achieve the goals that are set because there’s only so much you can do, and the bar keeps rising.
Now, I think that the higher expectations of me have helped me become resilient and achieve goals I never dreamed of achieving. I never settle for enough, which can be an advantage when you want to try harder. At the same time, it’s something that often makes me feel guilty. On a day like today, when my body is tired, when my brain has no more juice, and my mental health is casting a fog over my thoughts, I can’t help but hear that tiny voice say, “what you’re doing is not enough.”
I currently have three freelance projects that are currently on a tight deadline. What many of you may not know is that I also happen to have a full-time job as a content manager. I wouldn’t say that this is a normal nine-to-five at all. It’s demanding, and in some ways, it can be flexible, but ultimately, it’s a pretty demanding job. On top of that, I have a YouTube channel I am trying to start back up, I am currently training in dog sports with Mei (and it’s not just one sport, no, of course not. My overachieving self can’t make up my damn mind so I’ve been dabbling in *three* different sports, all of which require training and practice), and on the back burner, this blog (which, let’s face it, I haven’t updated nearly as often as I had hoped to), my embroidery projects, and my current–and very millennial–obsession with tropical plants. Notice how almost none of these projects are imposed by others. They are imposed on me by my own damn self.
There really isn’t much I can do to relieve the guilt, but I have learned that at this point in my life, I am probably the most critical of myself. But, from a more practical standpoint, listing out everything I am currently doing often makes me feel tremendously better. Because more often than not, we are all dealing with a much bigger pile of to-do’s than any of us give credit to ourselves for.
So, even if this is my way of procrastinating on my current pile of projects, I can consider this something ticked off my list of things to do. Make your list. Look at all the things you deal with on a daily basis. Even if this list (and reading this blog) is a method of procrastinating, you’ll see that you have a lot on your plate, and it should remind you to be kinder and prouder of what you can achieve.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk, y’all. Also, thanks for letting me procrastinate ✌️