By Jianan Qian | Full Article | 1500 words | Aug 23, 2018
1 minute read
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