Our birthday comes around once a year. Our birthday, that one day usually reminding us of another year gone by. Not all of us are keen on celebrating this so-called ‘special day‘.
I’m one of these people. Never have been keen on celebrating my birthday, which is coming up next week. Every year I try to keep this day as quiet as possible, going about the day as per normal and sort of forgetting that it’s my birthday.
When we speak of introverts, we often think of those who are quiet. There’s the common stereotype that if we’re Asian, we’re quiet and passive, and perhaps introverted too.
I’ve been every bit the introvert my whole life. As a Chinese Australian who feels too Asian to be Australian and too Australian to be Asian, countless occasions I feel I don’t fit in – but ironically I love being on my own.
Art or science? That’s a choice we might have to make at some point in our lives, maybe when we’re deciding what to study. Or choosing our career. Or deciding on which passion path to take.
Art is commonly thought of as abstract work, work that doesn’t always follow particular patterns, work open to interpretation. Think the fields of writing, music, painting, photography. On the other hand, science is commonly associated with logic and grounded in rational thinking, Think the fields of astronomy, accounting, law, medicine.
We all have passions and dreams, which our parents might not always agree with. In a stereotypical Asian family, artistic and creative dreams tend to be frowned upon, and we might have second thoughts about chasing them.
Writing is something I love. Seven year old me rushed home after school and wrote fictional adventure stories in my bedroom, and loved writing essays for English classes. These days after work, I write for this blog and work on my first book. But for as long as I can remember, my Chinese-Malaysian parents have never been keen on me spending time writing.
Swearing in Chinese culture is always a colourful affair. Some vulgar, curse words in both Chinese language and Cantonese dialect get straight to the point, while others are more subtle and rather hilarious.
When I was growing up, my parents threatened to slap my palm with a ruler if they heard me uttering a profanity in English (my first language), Chinese or Cantonese. Being the timid kid that I was, I never did. The years went by and today this is no longer true: I’m not anti-swearing and admittedly curse every now and then.
Swear words are said for certain reasons in certain situations at certain times. Quite a few of them in Chinese and Cantonese may seem confusing at first but breaking them down word by word, they translate into nothing really complicated and the meaning behind them is simple.
Mention metal illness in Asia and chances are you’ll get odd looks. It’s a topic usually unspoken here and within many Asian cultures, it’s a topic shunned and hushed.
I was born in Australia to stereotypical Chinese-Malaysian parents. No one in my household brought up the subject of mental health when I grew up. For a long time, I thought it couldn’t exist in the family. But earlier this year, I was diagnosed with both social anxiety and panic disorders.
Anxiety is feeling stressed or worried on an ongoing basis. There are many forms of it, just as there are many kinds of mental illnesses – depression, anorexia, substance addiction and bipolar disorder for instance. Mental illness can affect anyone, and support towards overcoming it is all around today. But for someone from an Asian background, reaching out for that support doesn’t always come easy.