The Bitter Regrets of a Useless Chinese Daughter


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Notes

  • Bitingly relatable narrative on the experience of a 2nd generation Asian American
  • “guanxi,” the network of connections and relationships that make China function.
  • Before my mother’s illness, I spurned what I saw as an excess of pragmatism among Chinese people, who want to ensure that all of their efforts go toward something useful. College degrees, jobs, friendships, marriages — all these should be chosen practically. “Be wise, pick an able man. Love doesn’t feed you,” my people like to say. Looking back on my high school years, all my relatives tried to talk me, a top-ranking student, into majoring in science or finance in college. But I was stubborn enough to stay with my favorite subject, literature. Now I understand them. They knew very well that in life, things can easily fall apart, and that those degrees are a promise of a steady, good-paying job, and perhaps a ticket to freedom, too.
  • My promise is useless. Even my decision-making is useless. Whether I choose to go back home and take care of her or stay in the United States and keep reaching for my dream, sooner or later, I will regret either choice. I will scold myself for not having enough courage to take the other path.
  • Relentless questioning of self
  • Asian-American culturally pushed to doctor/lawyer/engineer
  • It can seem surface-level but it ends up having real consequences