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1. The concept of success is up to ourselves to fill in.
For the longest of time, I thought that there was only one definition of the word success. Which means to study hard, get a prestige job and earn tons of money. I thought it was what everything thought that it was the way to become a successful person. When you are raised by parents who put work on the first place, it becomes natural that you inherit the same train of thoughts that you unconsciously will put into practice. To live years after years chasing achievement after achievement in an attempt to earn your parent’s approval is not being a successful person. I clung so hard to try to earn their approval that I did everything I can to walk the successful path. But instead, I ended up miserable and felt lost about my own identity. Only when I realize that my parent’s values and norms don’t have to automatically be mine as well, that I start to learn that the concept of success is up to no one to decide, but only yourself. Success through my eyes couldn’t be any more different than my parents.
2. Expressing feelings of hurt doesn’t make you a weak person.
I came from a household where we put anything underneath the table which makes us uncomfortable. We hold feelings in and gulped down the tears when we feel the urge to cry. Because crying is considered a sign of weakness. Growing up around my parent’s composed facades put pressure on me to be composed as well. I wanted to be strong as well, I wanted them to think I’m strong as well. Even if I did successfully restrained my feelings of hurt or tucking away the need for a listening ear, it didn’t feel quite right. It felt like I was living a double life and that my parents didn’t know who I really am. Everything felt fake and pretended as if I’m not actually living life but constructing a cookie-cutter life in which everything seemed perfect. Expressing feelings is what makes life worth to live. It is what makes us vulnerable towards each other to truly connect with one another. The ones who aren’t afraid to voice their struggles aren’t weak. On the contrary, people who express their feelings are really the strong ones.
3. There are different ways to show love.
Unlike the movies where parents hug their children or kiss them goodbye before going to school or simply saying ‘’I love you’’ to each other, my parents showed their love for their family through food. Asking ‘’have you eaten?’’ is a way to show that they care. Birthdays were celebrated with tons of food and having dinner means having family quality time. I learned that there are many different ways to show that you care or love someone. I learned that tough love is also love and that there isn’t one correct way to show love.
4. You are not an extension of your parents.
Even if you are the child of your parents doesn’t automatically mean that you are an extension of them. Parents are here to guide and to help, but eventually, we are our own person. We are individuals with our own dreams. We have our own things we like to do. Parents can’t mold you into a mini version of themselves that they have in mind. We are brought into this world to live a life we create for ourselves and not obey everything that our parents want us to do. Sometimes it feels more like a duty to be a daughter instead of growing into a person that I will be proud of when I look into a mirror. It takes time and courage to break free from the role I got the moment I was born into this world.
5. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
Mental health is a non-existent topic in the household that I grew up with. Even when watching movies where characters struggled with mental illness, my parents would easily put a label on them as ‘’crazy’’. They think you should be positive at all times and that you shouldn’t think back about bad experiences that you might have had in the past to make yourself feel depressed. Their generation didn’t learn much about mental health and viewed it as a ‘’unnecessary’’ state that someone is having. Growing up, my parents made sure I ate enough fruits and well-balanced meals throughout the days, which is something I’m grateful for. But it’s during the later years that I discovered myself that mental health is a real thing and is just as important as physical health. I learned that having a healthy body means nothing when our mind is ill. I learned that balance is the key to truly live a life where anything is possible to speak about, free from judgment and fear.
6. Thinking before speaking.
This largely has to do with our culture. Saving face makes up a big part of our culture. Which means honesty is not always appreciated in certain circumstances. I learned that sometimes it is better to tell things someone wants to hear instead of being honest. Through this way, I learned to observe situations and people first, I learned to think before I speak. And all in all, I learned to be aware of how I come across, what things come out my mouth and what I can do better the next time around when I have hurt someone through my actions and words.