mental health and model minorities: the asian american conundrum pt 2
What does it mean to be Asian? According to the media: You know kung fu. You bring bento boxes to school. You aspire to be a doctor, an engineer. Your parents have heavy accents and smell like five-spice and expect the best out of you–and you are the best. In everything. The quintessential North American Asian.
Earlier today I read about Jennifer Pan, the child of immigrant parents whose fear of failure led her to fake her grades and college acceptances; when her lies fell through, she sent hitmen to murder her parents. Naturally, I was horrified–but more than horrified, I was disturbed. Discomforted. The story of Pan’s early life sounded far too familiar: the “golden” child of immigrants, the model student with a chronic fear of disappointing others–Jennifer Pan and I were cut from the same cloth.
In times like these I’m reminded of Jiwon Lee, the Columbia Dental student whose body was found in the Hudson River last year. She left a note stating she was “not living up to expectations.” I’m reminded of Luchang Wang, sophomore at Yale, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, stating in her suicide note that she feared not being readmitted to Yale. I’m reminded of myself and of my friends, of hours spent in the counselor’s office and later the therapist’s, of diary entries lamenting the insurmountable weights of pressure and stress.
So you zoom out. You connect the dots. And you find: there is a mental health problem within the Asian American and Asian Canadian communities, a problem that is driving Asian youths to therapy and suicide and murder.
There was a time, not far too long ago, when report card day was my favorite day of the year. I used to rip that envelope open and hang my grades up on the wall. I worshipped the Ivy League like it was a religion and in my veins I etched the word success. I was going places, and I made sure everyone knew. So what do you tell a girl like that when she gets her first C? Her first D? What do you say when she disappears from school for days a time, when she has eyebags deeper than late night studying can explain?
In the Asian community, the answer is nothing. There is nothing to say. You notice, you cluck your tongue in disappointment, you move on. Depression and anxiety are taboo; mental illness is not seen as a health issue but as a weakness of character.
What a tragic irony for a community with such high rates of depression and anxiety, whose young people are more likely to die by their own hand than from disease. What a sad reality for a group of people who are dubbed the “model minority,” who are led to believe that hard work will breed success and happiness, who are spoonfed promises of an American dream. What an insult to the Pan family, to Jiwon Lee, to Luchang Wang, to the countless Asian lives lost for fear of dishonor, for fear of losing face.
But from the get-go Asians are told that we are the “model minority,” that the Asian emphasis on education and hard work is the key to our success. We see it in the media (a la the “Asian and Nerdy” trope). We hear it in our communities (”All Asians are good at math!”). We feel it perhaps most deeply in our own homes (”We came to this country so you could have a good education.”). Eventually, it is embedded into our very identities. We are not very well acquainted with failure–because to fail is to defy one’s own culture, one’s own identity.
So when we fail, we fall apart. And even when we don’t fail–when we are so-called succeeding–we are scared to death that we will.
There is, of course, plenty to say about Asian parenting styles and Asian culture in general. (We know of the brutal study habits of Korean students, of Japan’s [in]famous cram schools.) But if we are pointing fingers, there is much blame to find in the preconception of Asian students as academic overachievers, a stereotype perpetuated by our peers and our teachers and society at large. And beyond that, general knowledge about mental disorders, especially within the Asian community, is sparse and often inaccurate. There are many factors at play when it comes to Asian American mental health.
But what am I asking for? So many things could be done. Dismantle the model minority myth. Educate immigrant parents about mental health issues and treatment options. Introduce Asian characters in television and film who break the stereotype of the high-achieving Asian. Teach children at a young age that success is self-defined.
I want to see a world where we are not held prisoner by our own fear of failure, a community that doesn’t criticize one’s every grade and college acceptance and job offer. I never want to hear the words “tiger mom” again. I want peace for the Pan family, the Lee family, the Wang family, for my family. I want peace for Asian youth.
What does it mean to be Asian? It means your heritage takes root in Asia. It means you are human. It means you can make mistakes. It means you can do whatever the hell you want with your life, stereotypes be damned.
note: of course academic pressure isn’t exclusively an asian american problem. a nationwide education system which generates peer competition and a societal obsession with money afflict youth of all ethnic backgrounds. but from my studies and from my own experiences, the model minority stereotype and the obligation to “succeed” affect asian american/canadian youth almost universally.
How I feel about this character: I LOVE HIM OBVIOUSLY.
All the people I ship romantically with this character: Charley/Evelyn. Charley/Franklin
My non-romantic OTP for this character: Charley+Mary.
My unpopular opinion about this character: I love Raul Esparza, I love his Charley, but my image of Charley is so much Jewier than Raul.
One thing I wish would happen / had happened with this character in canon. RECONCILIATION W/ FRANK. Or a slice of his home life.
How I feel about this character: hahaha she is my aspirational life goal and i love her
All the people I ship romantically with this character: lmao no one because no one is good enough for her
My non-romantic OTP for this character: Herself/magic/herself/her fabulousness
My unpopular opinion about this character: she was right about everything
One thing I wish would happen / had happened with this character in canon: An epilogue where she’s chilling on her own private island away from bullshit, maybe with Mama Rose and Lucille Bluth
How I feel about this character: He is my favorite assassin. Idk how to talk about him because he’s a real person and a character and I know about both. The real guy is really interesting in a loser-y way
All the people I ship romantically with this character: No one, jeez.
My non-romantic OTP for this character: OK, I like the idea of him having a massive idol worshippy crush on John Wilkes. Wilkes will not give him the time of day. Wilkes is the assassin Guiteau wishes he could be/thinks he is: successful even before the murder, handsome, famous. Guiteau’s like “I want a piece of that.”
My unpopular opinion about this character: my problematic fave but i hate him
One thing I wish would happen / had happened with this character in canon: I wish they’d mentioned the Oneida Community! He lived in a free love community and no one would sleep with him! They nicknamed him “Charles Gitout!” More historical goodies!
So happy your requests are open! I'm a girl, 5'5 brown hair and kinda shy. I love meeting new people but also had bad anxiety so it's not a great mix. I love to read, Harry Potter is my favorite series of all time. I am an aspiring surgeon and don't get squeamish around guts or blood etc. my friends mean everything to me and they are the most important people in my life. Oh I'm also gay. I LOVE your blog! Thanks so much!
Charlie. She knows you can be shy, and tries to help as much as she can, introducing you to a lot of her friends from LARPing and the different conventions she’s been to, helping you to open up a little. She’s always there beside you, holding tight to your hand and making sure it’s something you’re okay with. On the quieter nights the two of you usually end up going through as many of the Harry Potter films, or various other movies, before you pass out. Sometimes you manage to drag the boys in with you, keeping an eye on Dean so he doesn’t eat all the pop corn.
Margret Miller, or Mrs. Miller was my middle school teacher. She taught me everything I know about the English language. She even fueled my love for history, which developed into my love of art history when I got into highschool. Its beacuse of her that I want to become a teacher so I can inspire young children like she inspired me. I want to be a teacher who is so passionate about my students and work just like her. Of course there are other teachers who have inspired me like Mrs. Ferry, Ms. Davis, and Mrs. Brown(and I guess Mr. McGlothlin too). Mrs. Miller, if you ever read this, I want you to know that you are the inspiration behind every great thing I accomplish.
I love Kim Rhodes so fucking much. She is everything I aspire to be in life. I don’t even know how to describe how perfect she is. The panel with her and Brianna was my favorite of the day because they are both such amazing, strong women and I love them so much. I want kim to adopt me. I want her to be my mom. Or my best friend. Or just anyone close to me because I feel like she’d be the best person to confide in and offer such great advice.
This girl is so amazing and she is everything I aspire to be in life. Beautiful, successful, loved, caring, strong, sensitive, tough, kind, powerful, inspiring, honest, intelligent, independent, optimistic, talented. Everything anyone could ever hope to be and more. She has taught me to fight for what I want, and to always consider and respect the other person’s perspective. Although at times she breaks, thats what makes her human. It shows that she’s not this stunning, perfect, dream girl, and that she has her faults like everyone. She is truly amazing, and my favorite part of One Tree Hill.
#2: Serena van der Woodsen - Gossip Girl
Always has and always will be my role model. A stylish, beautiful, strong young woman who has overcome drug problems, relationship struggles, a horrible family background, and still manages to be a strong light and positive person. She denies her known imagine as a mindless slut that can’t be alone, and shows that she is courages and intelligent. She has gone through dark times and hit places where she seems far gone- but she always manages to find her way back to who she knows she is and who she wants to be. Her light shines through the show and inspires the viewer to change themselves because redemption is always possible. She rarely does anything deceiving, but when she wants to be she can be a bitch, which I appreciate. She humbles me, for she is just as rich as any other of the characters, if not richer, yet she still manages to stay grounded and kind.
#3: Caroline Forbes - The Vampire Diaries
The humor, light, and laugh of The Vampire Diaries. The strongest vampire, controlling her blood temptations as well as everyone else’s, and never failing to keep everything, everyone, and herself in order. I never liked her as a human, but becoming a vampire made her a beautiful, loyal, powerful person that has inspired me to be a better person. Despite what anyone has done in the past, Caroline sees the best in everyone and looks to that side of people before anything else. She can be a little judgmental and controlling at times, but that’s what makes her Caroline. She knows she has her faults, but she embraces them, which I truly admire. She is great in relationships as well as great alone, which every girl aspires to be.
#4: Katherine Pierce - The Vampire Diaries
KATHERINE PIERCE IS A BEAUTIFUL AMAZING STRONG BRILLIANT SASSY ANGEL THAT SHOULD HAVE NEVER DIED. A TRUE SURVIVOR. WITH ALL THE PEIPLE WANTING TO KILL HER SHE SHOULD HAVE DIED IN THE 1600s. SHE HAS INSPIRED ME TO KEEP GOING AND NEVER SEE THE END AS THE END. THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY OUT OF ANY HORRIBLE DARK SITUATION AND I WANT TO THANK THIS INCREDIBLE GIRL FOR SHOWING ME THAT. LOVE&MISS YOU PLS COME BACK.
#5: Erin Silver - 90210
Absolutely fearless and flat out gorgeous. She rejects guys with style and knows what she wants. She’s not afraid to be who she is and doesn’t care literally whatsoever about what other people think. She has been through too much and has handled it with grace and strength. She’s arty, sarcastic, hilarious, intelligent, and sharp tongued and I admire her in so many ways.
#6: Bonnie Bennet - The Vampire Diaries
overly loyal. fierce when wanted. beautiful. strong. badass. generous as hell. willing to give her life OVER AND OVER AND OVER again for those she loves. truly incredible and I have learned so much from her but I don’t think I nor anyone can ever live up to a fraction of the care and love she has for others. much too underrated, she is the glue of The Vampire Diaries, everyone would be dead without this little pumpkin right here. I’m soooo happy she started standing up for herself and fighting back this season, its all I’ve ever wanted her to do and she’s just so awesome and I can’t wait to see whats in store for her. (if she dies one more time i s2g)
#7: Santana Lopez - Glee
I like to think of Santana as a human form of my bitchy side and most of my hateful thoughts to people. She is sarcastic, hilarious, cruel, honest, and strong as hell. She has been hateable at certain parts, but her mean and fiery exteriory is easy to see through for me. She is vulnerable and afraid of rejection of who she is and what she wants. She puts up a front like she’s better than anyone, but deep down her biggest fear is that she’s not better. She’s much like me in that way, sometimes it’s easier to be sarcastic, bitchy, and dismissive than to open up and let people see who you truly are.
#8: Lexie Grey - Grey’s Anatomy
My lil sweetie pumpkin pie. So adorable and gorgeous yet so good at her job and so committed to her work, she is admirable. She is a genuine person who approaches situations with a more open minded and accepting angle, which often attracts friends, patients, and guys, who are always willing to chase her, with reason. I love love loved her and I don’t understand why they had to end her character the way that they did (don’t want to spoil) because I really think she could’ve grown into an even more amazing woman.
#9: Olivia Pope - Scandal
This girl is one bad ass motherfucker. Excels at her job, saves lives, fixes everything with ease, and looks hot as hell while doing it. She’s fearless, classy, stylish, and willed. The business woman everyone aspires to be, I can’t imagine there ever being a more awesome fictional woman of office on TV ever. She honestly deserves nothing less than to be with the fucking leader of a nation.
#10: Quinn Fabray - Glee
This delicate beautiful girl right here is my forever favorite example of character development. She started out as this borderline insane, hated, bitchy, shallow, manipulative bitch and you watched her transform into being less hated, less bitchy, less shallow, less insane, less manipulative, and while the entire shift might have taken 5 seasons and is currently still in progress, she certainly has improved. She seeks love desperately and relies on men too much when she can so easily make it on her own. She is brilliant, talented, and beautiful which is more than enough and more than I can ever ask to be. love u Quinny
what i love about all these women is their strength. all so powerful and driven and admirable and will not settle for anything less than what they seek. also most of them are perceived as dumb or flaky and are often underestimated, but watching them prove so many people (including themselves) wrong has been a true pleasure and any traits I have adapted from their character I love about myself.
This time last year a spent my sweet sixteen with five of my closet friend who were all so kind and put together a picture perfect party for me. This year they’re all fighting with me over a silly misunderstanding. And so no one showed up to my party. Isn’t it funny the difference a year can make? Just this exact date a year ago I spent the day thinking “I cannot have a better life than this; I have good friends, a happy family life, and everything going for me” this year I have no friends, a rough family situation and no idea who I am as a person. Life is such a funny thing.
On tumblr the other day I stumbled upon a quote from none other than my favorite inspiration in this world, miss Taylor Swift and she said “I don’t think any of us can aspire to have some kind of perfect life. I think we can aspire to continue to keep going when our life doesn’t feel perfect.” For some reason this quote really stood out to me. I just fell in love it. I spend way to much of my time imagining this “picture perfect life” when in truth there is no such thing.
I appreciate how Taylor put this into perspective. Because as we all know, being the pop princess she is, she could easily gloat about her perfect life but she doesn’t. Instead she uses her success to help others. And in that she has taught me some very valuable lessons that I will never forget.
taylorswift I love you so much and I really hope one day I will be able to thank you for things like this in person, love you.
i am so personally freaked out that liz just recently tweeted i loves you porgy because like what even liz like why are you me and why am i you???? tbh i’ve been freaked out by this for the last mahybe 2 yrs bc honestly this is not th efirst incident in which we collide v strangely in similarities which is a huge reason why i gravitated toward loving her in the first place buT AT THE SAME TIME WE’RE NOT THE SAME CAUSE SHE’S AN ACTUAL GODDESS AND I’M JUST A PLEB???? like i don’t even like myself that much yet i love everything she is despite how we’re super alike does that even make sense nO I DIDN’T FUCKING THINK SO
i feel like liz is right now living the life i aspire to live and i am so don e because it’s like wow we could really be best friends like long lost sisters but wow i want to wife you the fuck up cause our chemistry is unreal and you’re such a fucking babe like how fuckiNG DARE YOU PUT ME THROUGH THIS SELF TURMOIL i’m so over it go fuck yourself liz
12:34 AM I'm the worst and don't know what's the point of "don't kill yourself" posts, what does that have to do with any of them if I'm alive or dead, it doesn't make sense. I'm useless with low self esteem and zero aspiration. What if I don't want to live anymore. I fell like a lab rat trapped in a maze called life. Everything sucks but I have to keep on smiling for my mother. She suffered a lot and I don't want to cause her any more pain. when will it end is all what I'm thinking about now.
I understand that and it has to do with them because they’re trying to be supportive and don’t want you to kill yourself, you’re needed and wanted by your mother, have you tried getting help? :( xxxx
*anonymously tell me what time it is there and what you’re thinking about*
MY BABE IS 23
Happy birthday to this beautiful, classy human being. She’s taught me so much about kindness and about life and I would not be who I am today without her. She means the world to me and I’ve literally watched this beautiful human being grow up to the woman she is today. She knows how to handle things in such a graceful way and she is everything I aspire to be as a person.
‘Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.’ - Bruce Lee
If you learn from your mistakes, you’ll be a better person.
Life is all about making mistakes. I’ve made a lot of them in life, and learned from none of them. Until now. My biggest mistake of all, was letting him go.
I had it all. Money. Fame. Success. Then I lost it. I thought I finally had my life back on track when I found her. But one slip up and I lost everything. Again.
Kennedy Crawley spends her days helping others conquer their demons at Hope and Chance Retreat, in Australia’s Northern Territory. After spending her life being someone even she didn’t like, she finally sought the courage to overhaul her life, dreams and aspirations. Now, she’s determined to stay on track and be a better person.
Kye Austin was living his dream life as a professional football player. Until the day his sins caught up with him. He was sent to Hope and Chance Retreat to get his life back on track. After winning his battle, he decides to stay in the area and try to win the affections of Kennedy. There’s just one problem: she’s not interested.
Al Pacino wants his daughter to change her surname.
The 75-year-old iconic actor believes his famous name could cause his first born child Julie, 25, to be hounded by the press and since the aspiring film producer is following in her father’s footsteps, he has urged her to seriously consider changing it.
He said: “I still feel, as a father it would be better for her, in her young life, to try another name, so she’s not identifiable.”
The ‘Scarface’ actor also has 14-year-old twins Anton James and Olivia Rose with actress Beverly D'Angelo, but the pair have been given their mother’s family name.
He explained: “When I started out, everything was happening. I was wearing wigs, I was being chased down the street, but if someone asked me if I was me, I had to say, 'Yes I’m Al.’ It makes me feel funny not to, because that’s who I am. I even said to my daughter, maybe it’d be easier for her to us another name, but she said, 'But that’s who I am.’”
Meanwhile, the star reflected on the fact he hasn’t had “anonymity” for over fifty years.
He told Shortlist magazine: “I think anonymity is something that all people share but don’t understand, until you lose - then it has something of a meaning … We all have a taste for attention. We all liked to be acknowledged and respond to being appreciated. That’s one thing. To be so invisible? That’s another.”
Maria you understood everything in life, Phoebe is the best
I KNOW she is an idol I aspire to be like her tbh she was the happiest among all of the friends because she didnt have an absolute goal that she needed to reach in order to be happy she was living in the moment and was confident as fuck she sang her silly songs and she loved doing that and she didnt give a fuck if other people liked them!!! and she was sensitive and an activist and asdfkrl I love her
Dominique is spending part of her summer at the Mattahunt Elementary School. The building is quite familiar - she attended the school in grades K-5, and spent extra time there in the summer as a BELL scholar. Now, she is finding herself in the role of a mentor for scholars, just as her BELL staff were for her.
I, Dominique York am a young women with huge aspirations in
life. Not only am I an achiever but I’m also an extreme go-getter for everything
I want out of life.
As of right now I am going into my sophomore year at UMass
Lowell as a student in the College of Business, majoring in marketing. I have
been a BELL Scholar starting as a 5th grader at the Mattahunt School. As the years have went on I have continued to
grow with BELL. In my high school years
I was invited into the BELL Alumni Society Fellowship, which has brought much
exposure to me and helped me gain a greater appreciation for the mentors in my
life and what they have taught me over the years.
With this being said, one of my biggest goals this summer is
to help BELL shine and to let scholars know how important the leaders in their
lives are. I want them to know that over
time mentors will have the greatest impact whether scholars realize it now or
I have already started to talk to some scholars about my
experience in BELL and where I am now. One
thing that I want to do with them is dream planning - to take some time
whenever there is free time to just think about what we want to accomplish in
life, and to think about what we have accomplished thus far. By doing this
activity with them, I hope to open up their eyes to the importance of laying
out the things you want out of life. Once we know exactly what they want, then
we can take on the second step of getting them the right resources to continue
to help them along the journey. This process is similar to the one in which I
went through as a scholar in BELL, and I feel as though it has helped me
I know what I want out of life. As I get older I want to work with a business
that upholds the idea of corporate social responsibility. Not only does this make my company more
appealing but it also shows that we are not centered on continuously profiting.
Corporate social responsibility is when a company holds itself socially and
environmentally accountable. This means that the company takes responsibility
for the amount of waste being produced and the company also invests in the
community. While working in this company I would love to travel all while marketing
them and giving them more exposure in the business world. When you network with
people from different countries you learn and expose yourself to new things
continuously, which means you’ll never stop growing.
Daily growth is one of my core values. The moment that you
become too comfortable in your situation is the same moment that you begin to
limit yourself entirely and slowly start to lose purpose in your life and the
lives of others. One thing that I am doing since I’ve been given this
opportunity is introducing myself to a new scholar every day and trying to get
some information on them and why they’re a BELL scholar. Every story is different from the next. Some of these stories have totally changed my
perspective and helped me to pinpoint some of the challenges not only in
communities but in many schools. When
these problems get put to light I’ll be able to prepare them to move past some
of these struggles and as they grow into their own. Simultaneously, I will be
learning how to tactfully lead them into the right directions peaceably.
One of my biggest dreams in life is to be able to live
comfortably and not have to struggle financially – ultimately, to live debt free. In addition to this, I want to be able to
give back to the community organizations that have instilled so much in me and
have helped me tremendously to get to where I am today. Giving back is
something that a lot of people overlook when they do finally achieve their goals;
often times people are so focused on moving forward and getting to their next
step that they forget to look back and give thanks to all the helping hands
that assisted in their journey.
From the day I crossed paths with the lovely Ms. @chubkalicious, my expression of gratitude to the powers that be has been consistent for bringing this incredible young woman into my life, albeit virtually 🙏🙏 Honestly people, besides her seemingly effortless ability to depict this mild obsession of mine with sheer precision, she has the personality of THAT one friend we all wish we have and the one you aspire to as a individual 😍😍😍 My dear Eliza, you know being shy isn’t a trait of mine so telling the world just how much I appreciate everything you represent doesn’t faze me 😉😉 Pardon my cheekiness, your spot at the podium is of the highest 💘✌👌 Thank YOU for being YOU 🌻 Btw, on the evidence of this, #ThursdaysAreStankyToo indeed and what a #SoooSTANKILICIOUSLYEliza™ way to do it 💞💞 Have a STANKILICIOUS day 😋😋