Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The ways that childhood can be damaging

Lately I've been feeling incredibly scatterbrained everytime I try to sit down and write. I can't seem to focus, and something in the back of my head keeps on telling me that I should be doing something else.

It's times like this that I find myself thinking about doing a hundred math problems. Because that's the sort of thing that my dad use to spring on me to see whether I was on top of my game in middle school and high school. Finishing those problems always made me feel accomplished and calmer, because my father was pleased, and I felt that I had proven myself once again.

I guess I was/am so used to pleasing my parents, that I see myself from their reference point when I gauge my accomplishments. Whenever my values and desires conflict with those of my parents, I find myself fighting tidal waves of guilt, anxiety, and doubt. So even though doing an hundred math problems right now would be a completely meaningless gesture, I still feel that it will benefit me in some way that creative writing will not.

It took me about four years to realize that this is a problem. I'm sure everyone with loving and demanding parents go through this in some way shape or form.

But sometimes I wish I could sit down and read or write and not feel so extremely guilty.


Stephanie said...

aww, great post, cindy. this brings back my own lovely memories of "math with dad." They usually ended in awful fits of crying (me) and extreme frustration (him).

it's scary, the kind of life-long influence that asian parents can have. I was talking to an asian friend the other day about this, and apparently there's this chinese saying that goes something like this: "Children are like trees...you have to straighten them early on so that they'll grow correctly." Um, she said it much more eloquently, but it sorta enlightened me to the idea that our parents' influence can be so insidious b/c it happens early on when we're naive and ignorant, and as a result, you aren't even fully aware of it as an adult.

Anyway, I say take pleasure in writing (and the occasional writer's block) and don't let those feelings of guilt get to you!!

CChen said...

Thanks Steph for the words of encouragement. It's amazing how much you do not realize about yourself, especially when you think and feel you do know everything there is to know already.