There is an episode on Glee where two Asian high school kids are talking in the hallway. Mike says to his girlfriend,”I got an A- Tina,” to which Tina exclaims, “You got an Asian F?” I laugh so hard because I know exactly what they are talking about.
It used to be hard to explain what growing up Asian American was like. However, since the book, Tiger Mom came out in 2011, it’s all been detailed and controversialized. My radiologist asked me if I have read the book and I tell her that I don’t need to because I “lived” it.
The ABC sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat, continues to give the rest of America some insights on what growing up Asian is like. I am glad to see that the writers of this show make fun of the stereotypes and I hope that as a people, we can take ourselves less seriously.
I don’t want Asian moms to get such a bad rap though; I believe in gender equality. I had a Tiger Dad too! My divide and conquer strategy never worked with my parents. They were always on the same page. I say this with fondness because I love my parents and their intentions were good.
Personally, I have learned (with some therapy) that I don’t need to be a perfectionist and that good enough is really good enough! So it’s ironic that when I got breast cancer, I started to feel like I was in high school again. It starts by me telling my Yoda (breast cancer navigator) that, “if beating cancer were a class then I intend to get an A+.” She laughs so loud that I have to pull the ear piece out–my Yoda is Japanese, she gets it.
The self-discipline comes back easily just like riding a bike. I track my exercise, diet, sleeping, meditation, supplements, doctors’ appointments, medical procedures, and stay on top of medical insurance bills as if they are just the different classes I am taking. I was a straight A student back in the day and I can be again!
As a joke, I tell people that, “I am eating and working out as if I’m training for the Olympic Decathlon.” But secretly, I am quite serious. I not only want an A+, I want Gold too! My patterns of being a type A overachiever comes back with a vengeance as if I had never left high school.
I have no time for extracurriculars: I am so busy doing the reams of homework that pile up from all these subject matters. However, I have forgotten the most important subject matter: processing my feelings. I am so busy doing, I forget to just be.
It all crashes down on me one day when I realize just how stressful I am making myself. I don’t want to go into therapy again! More importantly, my goal is to decrease the amount of cortisol in my system and this is having the opposite effect.
I cut myself some slack. If I don’t get to exercise that day, it’s okay. If I forget to take my supplements on another day, it’s okay. If I want to eat a burger, I tell myself I can–as long as it’s Niman Ranch!
I take time to journal and have conversations on the phone with my friends (yes as in talking–that antiquated activity that has been replaced with texting!?) about what I’m going through. In light of all that is happening, I decide I will settle for an A- after all.