It is hard to describe my state of mind right now. I feel quite fired up thinking about the kind of “advice” my own parents gave me hours earlier. They think they’re helping me but they’re really not. Instead I feel belittled and almost as if they are treating me like a child or that they assume I don’t have any common sense at all.
If you read one of my previous posts entitled “No End to Anxiety”, you’d know that I had an upcoming in-person meeting with a potential employer, Alan. I went in on Monday and later received a call from him that evening. I got hired and I start training this Wednesday. Believe me when I say there were multiple times prior to the meeting I kept wanting to find a reason to avoid the situation. It rained during the whole morning, but the worst was the bottom cuffs of my slacks got soaked, in addition to my shoes giving me heel blisters. All this while I had to walk more than five blocks (from the subway stop I got off on) in order to get to Alan. I was not familiar with the area so I had taken a subway route provided by a transit app on my phone, though I later realized taking the bus would have made for a smoother commute.
I thought about calling it quits when I hadn’t walked halfway there yet, and then considered the same thing when I was a block away from my destination. The blisters were excruciating at this point, particularly as my wet pant cuffs slapped against the open wounds with each step I took. I don’t know what made me keep going. I was of two minds with one part of me urging me to just call Alan and tell him I couldn’t make the appointment, and the other part pushing me to continue along since I’ve been through worse pain than a couple of blisters. I hobbled past a corner and ducked into an open door hallway after I was unable to find the building entrance. Again I thought about giving up. Why? Because I felt stupid for not being able to find the entrance on my own, and because I felt pangs of fear knowing the next logical thing to do was to call Alan for help. In the moment, I was doubtful he would assist me. I know now that this was my anxiety converting my fear into a faux reality. I believed it so much that I failed to even recall that, days earlier when he and I spoke on the phone to set up the appointment, I had asked if I could call him if I got lost and he affirmed that this was completely fine. I ended up calling because it was a few minutes until noon and I’d be late if I didn’t do something.
Anyway, fast forwarding to the issue with my parents. Sigh. I don’t even know anymore. I know I sound melodramatic and whiny, unfortunately, but for whoever is willing to listen, here is what happened. Over dinner, I told my parents about getting hired. I was elated, anxious, and giddy that I took a chance on this job opportunity and it paid off for once. However, I did not express these sentiments to my parents.
If you must know one major thing about my relationship with my parents, I flip flop between wanting to be a good daughter and be open with them or wanting them to fuck off and out of my life. I am very uncomfortable talking to them most of the time. Sometimes I try to make an effort in conversation, but often I find myself retreating if one of them asks me a question I perceive as a challenge or if it’s something I don’t want to share with them. An example might be if I’m going to hang out with people at a meetup event. The most I will say is I’m going out, or that I’m meeting friends. I do not feel the need to elaborate anything more to them than that. It’s my father peppering of questions about who I was with and what I did that annoys me. I believe I get anxiety from him asking me questions, but it’s hard to tell since the annoyance I feel is like a knee-jerk reaction. Other times I am frustrated by some of his questions I see little to no value in (such as his infamous, “Were there other Chinese people there?” bit that I’ve ranted to death about in some prior posts) and then I want so badly to assert myself by saying, “I don’t understand why you always ask me that.” You could say I have anxiety about sharing details about my activities to my parents. I suppose any parent who cares about their child, no matter how old the child is, wants to be in the loop about their kid. The second part of this anxiety is when I feel defensive when they say something that makes me on-guard, and my instinct is to say something back to assert myself but I don’t have the self-confidence for it. That is when the anger kicks in. Suddenly I’m angry at whichever parent said the stuff that upset me in the first place and I’m also angry at myself for being too scared to give my own opinion. For so long I was content to keep my mouth closed and just nod and go along with what my parents wanted.
Back to what my parents actually said after I told them I got hired, the both of them started prattling off advice about how I should behave on the job. Honestly, some of it was really dumb and I am now wondering if my parents actually think I’m simple-minded and/or stupid. My mother: “You have to say good morning to people when you go into work”. “Be polite to people when you answer the work phone.” My father: “Don’t be uncomfortable if you run into a problem that isn’t that serious.” “Remember to smile a lot and people will like you.” Are they fucking kidding me? I don’t know if this is some Asian culture thing where parents still treat their kids like children when they are adults (I am 27) but it’s hard for me not to place that label on them. Especially since this isn’t the first time my parents have given me “advice” like this. Maybe they assume because I’m quiet around them that this is how I act around other people too. Wrong. What grates on my nerves even more than both my parents telling me how to act as if I’m some five-year-old who has no common sense is my father telling me to “not be uncomfortable”. What does he think; that it’s humanly possible to not be uncomfortable? Also, did it ever occur to them that I didn’t get the job for free and it wasn’t like I sat in front of Alan like a scared mouse and hardly uttered a word? Had I done that, I wouldn’t have even gotten hired.
More and more I understand my parents less and less as I have made awkward and sometimes successful attempts to let the outside world into my life. I’ve become embittered about the constant language barrier between myself and them that nothing can help to bridge it. I have tried to become more fluent in Mandarin in the past to cope with their inability to comprehend complex English. Now I don’t care for it because I see I was trying to be someone I am not to please my parents. The downside to this is I do feel I may be using their lack of understanding of English as an excuse for why I deliberately don’t mention certain things in my life or just omit it out entirely from the conversation because I wouldn’t know how to explain it to them in Mandarin so they can get what I’m talking about.
Then I also see my father may be overstepping my boundaries as an adult. I get that some parents will continually see their children as their babies even if the children are grown and can think/make decisions on their own. I also didn’t say my father isn’t allowed to not care about me. I just do not care for certain reactions he has where he behaves like it’s his responsibility to worry or think on my behalf. Example: He actually told me I could leave for work a bit earlier if I was taking the bus. After saying this, he proceeded to tell me out loud how long it might take me to get there and when I might arrive.
I honestly do not know what he is thinking. I’ve observed him act this way whenever my mom goes anywhere by train or bus, except she seems to not mind his “advice” as she relies on him for information she would otherwise not really care to look up herself. In the past when my brother started at his first real job that required him to travel to other work locations, my father also would often advise him on what time to leave the house or what subway line to take. Eventually, it got to the point my brother told him off every time my father tried to be a know-it-all. I know I sound harsh, but it seems my father apparently doesn’t realize how his behavior is annoying. When he spits out information like that to me, it makes me feel as if he doesn’t believe I am capable of finding out the same info on my own and that he is talking down to me. This, coupled with my frustration over not being financially independent plus still living with my parents, kind of fuels how I perceive my father keeps treating me like I’m not a competent adult.
What do you think? Am I being oversensitive about my parents or are some of my complaints about them valid?