RE-SET EP. 002 - How has growing up Asian-American affected our mental health over time?
Miinkay: Even though it’s all about family, it’s really about self-sacrificing. It’s humble but superficial. A lot of pride but not rubbing it in other people’s faces. You’re supposed to be better than everybody else. You’re supposed to be rich and humble at the same time. How does that work?
My dad was very much about getting good grades, being a doctor, all the superficial standards for success. It’s very unhealthy. It creates a toxic mindset. You have to value yourself by how much money you make. Or how successful your kids are. Those are such superficial things. It fucked me up.
Once I had all that, and I got there, I realized this sucks. I realized this is not what it’s supposed to be. I was 25 or 26 and I had been working and I landed my first 6-figure job. That’s what moved me to LA. Then I realized this was bullshit. It was so empty and meaningless and depressing. Being so focused on money. There’s never an end to it because you can always have more money.
That’s been the biggest mental health hurdle: being satisfied with where you are. Both cultures are about making tons of money. Money centric attitude. Asian culture says make a lot of money by working hard and playing smart. American culture says make a lot of money by being clever and creating the next new things.
BELINDA: I feel like I had to build an armor to wear over my skin from being a child of immigrants. My parents moved here from Hong Kong when they were teenagers and had to work really hard just to feed themselves. They instilled a survivor mindset onto me early on in life.
Having grown up in a communist country themselves that was occupied by the British in their earlier years, they experienced scarcity in a way I never had to. I was born into a democracy where individualism is encouraged. The family-centric values from traditional Chinese society are held very loosely here. Having to live with two different value systems is honestly a lot to make sense of.
Asian countries tend to be based on the collective unit over the individual self. Working for the family or the community instead of yourself. You don’t normally follow your dreams. My mom built my brain for war by giving me the 36 Strategies of the Three Kingdoms in graphic novel form when I was 5 years old. She also gave me books on filial piety around that time too.
You’re supposed to help the elderly and respect your elders. Individual thought is not encouraged. It’s very much built on power dynamics. You function inside a box. I had to pave my own way outside of this construct for my own sanity over time.
Live stream aired on Tuesday August 25, 2020 via Twitch