“What will they think?” The fear of being seen as a failure before family at Chinese New Year

The other night, I suddenly burst out in tears over what might probably be the silliest of all things – the fact that Chinese New Year was fast approaching, and I was really afraid of spending it with the family.

It sounds ridiculous to admit that I was sobbing in my bed over another holiday with the family, but it’s true. And it was all triggered by an equally ridiculous thing – that none of my husband’s friends could lend us their extra cars.

We knew we weren’t in a position to rent a car to drive home for the holiday, but John and I had talked about borrowing one of his friends’ cars for a while. The only problem? We waited too long to ask for that second car – and of his friends who had an extra vehicle, all of them had been promised away to someone else.

As frivolous as it sounds, I had secretly daydreamed about driving back to the family home in a car. I often imagined myself, the sunshine beating down upon me like a spotlight as I stepped out of an actual automobile in front of the family – how great it would feel for them to see us driving home to the house (instead of taking the two buses we’d normally have to brave to make the trip back).

Deep down, I know it was all about face, our own mianzi. That I thought if only we had a car – even if it was a borrowed one – it would somehow make up for everything else about our lives that seems totally imperfect or open to family criticism. Like how we don’t have kids (and everyone keeps bugging us about it). Or how we don’t own an apartment or a car (unlike all of John’s relatives his own age). Or even the fact that we live in a tiny apartment. Having a car would somehow prove our “worthiness” before everyone else in the family.


Well, without the “armor” of a borrowed car at our disposal, all of my fears came pouring out, along my tears. That everyone will notice how not much has changed for us over the year of the horse. That they might think we’re failures.

The problem of “what will others think?” has weighed upon me for much of my life. I’m a recovering perfectionist, exacerbated by the fact that I’m also incredibly sensitive. The old saying goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” – and yet for most of my life, I’ve taken to heart time and time again what other people say about me. Even though I should have known better.

Meanwhile, Chinese New Year is one of those times when it seems like everyone in the family makes it their business to tell you what they think about your life – whether it’s your marital status, whether you have kids, or even your own possessions. And even when people don’t say anything, sometimes just being the one who “sticks out” of the crowd – like, say, the only thirty-something couple in the family that doesn’t have a home, car, lots of money, and kids – can make you feel truly like the odd one out. As if you don’t belong (and, perhaps, never will).

Hence, all of my fears about heading home. And my crazy thinking that, somehow, having a car might make us “look better” in the eyes of everyone else.

I’d be lying if I told you I’m somehow over “what other people think,” because I’m not. I think it’s the biggest struggle of my entire life. It’s one I fight on a daily basis. Sometimes, it’s even the reason I can’t fall asleep right away; there are nights when I must whisper the mantra, “You are good enough just as you are,” over and over again, just like my mother used to whisper to me as a child when I couldn’t sleep.

Facing my family at Chinese New Year is like being tossed into my own personal three-ring circus of “what will other people think?” Specifically, people who I love and care about very much, which makes it even harder.


Yet, in another sense, I also realize that facing my worst fear – what others who love me will think – could also be my salvation. That sometimes, you have to face the darkness and plunge right into it, instead of just running away (which tends to be my knee-jerk reaction to things I am afraid of).

That instead of hiding behind someone’s borrowed car in order to feel worthy, I can feel worthy right now, exactly as I am. And not because someone else – or, especially, someone in the family – told me so.

So in a few days, John and I will walk our way over to one of Hangzhou’s bus stations and board the first of two buses to make our way back to his hometown. I don’t know what my Chinese family will say about us this holiday season. But for the first time in a long time, I’m going to try out something new – listening less to their criticism, and more to my own heart (which I’m certain that deep down inside already knows I’m good enough).

Have you ever been afraid of what other people — family or otherwise — might think of you? How do you manager your own “demons”?

P.S.: When I first drafted this post, it seemed my husband and I had no possibility of borrowing a car to head home. Then a miracle happened — when my husband happened to call a forgotten old classmate, she offered us her extra car. Still, that car won’t change my perspective; I’m still planning on listening to my heart!

45 Replies to ““What will they think?” The fear of being seen as a failure before family at Chinese New Year”

  1. Jocelyn, I used to care what other people thought of me, but that all changed a couple of years ago. Something happened that made me realize how fortunate I am with what I got right now. Sometimes we got to appreciate what we have right now and the positive things in our lives – We have to be happy with the now, the present.

    You have a lot going for you so don’t ever sell yourself short. You have an amazing husband. You are a great writer. And you have heart and inner drive to share your thoughts, even the more personal ones, with the world. Remember all the positives in your life as you drive home for CNY. 🙂

    Gongxi Fa Cai!! I hope the year of the goat is everything you want it to be plus more!

  2. I really appreciate the honesty in your posts Jocelyn. My Chinese fiancée and I are living with his parents here in Australia at the moment and I certainly understand getting upset about things that may seem strange from the outside but are representative of bigger pressures/challenges. Stay strong!

  3. It’s the opposite for me. Unlike in the West I don’t care at all what others think of me in China. This doesn’t mean I’m trying to make an ass out of myself on purpose though. It just means that people here play a different game than I do. I can’t compete on their level, they cannot really compete on things important to me.

    In a way I came up accepting that I am a guest in their culture, but I will never be on the same level as they. As foreigner I cannot relate to their past – what was it growing up in the 70’s and 80’s? I cannot really relate to many problems they experienced first hand. My own country moves to post consumerism – having a car is not important to many people I know. While here in China it’s a consumer craze similar to the West’s post-war 60’s. Comparing myself with Chinese is a pears and apple comparison.

    They may have bigger cars and apartments. I know that my child will have free education, free healthcare, that it can travel almost anywhere it wants. That it will have self determination and political freedoms. It’s not really fair comparison, as many of these things are not available to Chinese.

    Hence I accept that I am a guest at their culture. I do not belittle them, because if I were Chinese I would care about the same things. But I am not. I am, however, grateful if they invite me and share their world with me. And I hope that my (future) in-laws see that their daughter is happy, and that, in the end, this is what counts.

  4. Yeah, it can be really hard to spend a holiday with a loving family, which criticize you all the time. There is a funny thing: I always felt like that in my own home, with my own parents. And something even funnier: my Chinese in-laws NEVER say stuff like that. They love me, cause I make their son happy and they accept our style of living even if they don’t understand our choices. I’m sure they are waiting for a grandson just as yours, but they never ask why it takes so long. I’m sure they would be glad if we had more money, but they never say that we aren’t successful enough.
    Wish you strenght and wish your parents-in-law more understanding.

  5. Jocelyn don’t fall into this way of thinking, it will only cause emotional (mental) turmoil and it’s not worth it. Following ideals of what is considered to be “normal’ or “what everyone should strive for”, “Live for”, “aim for”, “have” is a b…. of a burden. More so if it’s all based and judged on monetary values such as money, house, cars, promotion etc.

    Guess what you’ll have a car for a week ( which will make your travels easier for sure ) but then you’ll give it back; so does having a car for a brief moment to “show others” make you a better (special) person than you were before or will be after? Does your value as a human being go up a few notches because you have a car, or a house? (Actually we’ve lived in China long enough to know in the eyes of some Chinese it does)

    The concept of face is different to each individual…..Is someone who has (monetary) wealth but is not humble better than someone who is humble but with little (monetary) wealth? Is telling a lie to save face better than admitting you made an error?

    You can only live your life that is true to you and no one else, everyone’s story is unique and everyone travels their own path. What you don’t have today you may have tomorrow or on the flip side what you have today you may lose tomorrow.

  6. I’m not sure if I’ll be of help or not, but recently I made a realization that one devotes more time to regrets than to other things. I didn’t celebrate February 14th with a loved one, and on 13th I mentioned few things I wanted from him (ask me more about my life besides the standard job-drive-college, please, and be more affectionate, at least tell me that you thought of me or that you miss me…) instead yesterday, I enjoyed Ddeukbogi and Kimbap with my parents. (To be honest we did celebrate V-day on February 7th)

  7. Jocelyn, listen to your heart and you will know that you are good enough, no matter what other people say. But still, I would like to tell you here that you are amazing. You inspire so many people with your posts and honesty. Sometimes it just takes one person to speak up, so other people who are in a similar situation also find the courage to do the same.

    The demons you are talking about are very familiar to me. Unfortunately, I have not found a way to cope with them yet. I am still living in fear of what other people might think about me. That is exactly the reason why it is so hard for me to get myself out there. If it wasn’t for my husband I wouldn’t even have started my blog (or pursued my passion for art). I am hiding in my apartment simply because I am afraid of what people might think. The past weeks I have started to step up, with the help of my husband, and show the world who I am, what I can do. It is very difficult for me to be proud of myself or even feel accomplished. A good friend once told me that my perfectionism will ruin me one day… and I think she is true. But I don’t know how to escape this circle of fear of failure and self punishment.

    Maybe for the new year of the sheep I should try to find a way out of this miserable situation, but it will be a long way. Because every time I try to get out there my perfectionism stands in the way, telling me I didn’t do well enough, so I should start all over again. It’s a vicious circle.

    I really wish you strength for the upcoming festivities. I can totally relate as I will be going through the same “why don’t you have children yet?”, “why don’t you have a car?”, “why don’t you have a house?”… I am not sure how your husband John is handling the situation, but my husband is suffering as much as I do (maybe sometimes even more because I can turn off my Chinese translator in my head, but he still has to keep on listening to what his relatives have to say). He is also the only son, and ALL his friends and relatives his age, have at least one (if not two or three) kids, cars, apartments, regular income. Thinking about it, it cannot be easy for his parents either. Those two are actually the only ones not annoying us with the usual questions. But I can see the worry in my mother-in-laws eyes. She is desperately waiting for a grandchild.

    Let’s just try to enjoy the good side of Chinese New Year. Being with the family and eating until we burst 🙂 I will even take a break from the internet and all social networks for the next couple days. Sometimes we have to focus on the good things without distracting us with other things.

    I wish you a happy and prosperous year of the Sheep Jocelyn!


  8. Jocelyn, I agree with Anna that you are amazing and an inspiration to so many people with your posts and honesty.

    I don’t think any of us ever get over caring what other people think of us. That’s why we like to spend more time around people who like us for who we are. It’s only natural. The important thing is to make decisions based on our own values and to act according to our own goals.

    As a mother, I know it’s impossible to hide from my children what I hope for them. But I also try to be open whatever lifestyle they choose and be pleased with whatever they are able to accomplish. Parents always want their children to be happy in every way. We have to learn that every life–theirs and our own–is never perfect. We all have our ups and downs, successes and disappointments.

    I wish you and John all the best in the Year of the Sheep.

  9. Jocelyn even at the age of 68 I felt like you but this year I decided I liked myself and success was not what others thought but what I knew to be true. I was loved for all my imperfections, all my human errors and some of the things in life over which I had no control. I look back on the small things in life others value and realize the treasures I have had and now have. You both have shared in a journey so far many others would never have embarked upon – you have chosen love, education and each other for this journey. I knew your mom and she would be saying. Thank you for growing into the woman who valued what I did. Go for it and know you are a success and above all a gift to those you may never have even met.

  10. While family is important, this ‘care’ that they show is emotional blackmail, undermining you as a person.

    The constant comparisons can chip away at even the strongest confidence, and then to have your feelings dismissed by hearing ‘we say this because we love you’ is to me the ultimate blow: ‘we don’t care about what you think or feel: we can say anything we want under the guise of caring about you.’

    make sure you have time to yourself away from the family, no matter how much you love them.

    You have different goals and aspirations in your life that maybe others can’t (or don’t want to) understand.
    The way I look at it is, that I would never do that to a holiday guest: question their life choices, but just be happy they came.
    It is supposed to be a family celebration, not a competition to see who measures up to a particular standard.

    Happy New Year all

  11. Jocelyn, thank you for yet another open and very personal post. I seem to err on the other endーI don’t often consider enough about what other people may think about something. Usually my family ends up hurt or slightly in the dark while I make decisions without letting them know first. Working on that!

    Professionally though, I can related very much to the anxiety of saving face and wanting to appear a certain wayーI really want to meet (and exceed!) everyone’s expectations, which ends up being entirely exhausting, or just plain impossible.

    I hope you have a wonderful visit, and I’m happy you finally found a car to borrow for your trip!

  12. I totally relate to what you are saying Jocelyn. My already low self esteem took a header into the toilet since moving here. I do care what other see me as. Living as a black woman in China is extremely difficult. I am seen as ugly and as a monster. I have to wake up in the morning everyday and find one aspect about myself for the day and repeat it over and over again. Mine has less to do with face and more with just being accepted as a human being. Or being viewed as beautiful. So yes I agree people’s opinion do count. Especially when I am dateless and spending too much quality time with my dog.

  13. Jocelyn,

    First thing first, love your blog.

    As a CBC (Chinese born Chinese :D), I totally understand the stress you’ve been under as the CNY approaches. Even after all these years growing up in such a competitive (even toxic, to me at least) environment (from grades in elementary school, awards in high school and a degree of a big name university to a well paid and stable job, a conveniently located and good sized apartment, and a car, a wife, a kid…), I still haven’t figured out any advice for myself or you or anyone who’s in the same shoes to ease the pain, the embarrassment, and the added pressure from all that “caring questionnaires” (though, you may consider suffering through by eating, more 🙂 or hiding in another continent).
    My parents and relatives often ask me why not go back for CNY or simply for a visit: only if they could read this post. However, even if they could, they wouldn’t understand or wouldn’t want to understand or wouldn’t change their opinions of me anyway, so why bother?
    The ironic part is that it is usually we who eventually cave to the pressure and start doubting ourselves. You know you have a lovely husband and a wonderful marriage (think about the ones who are still single and searching desperately), you know you have an awesome blog and a loyal following, you know you have tons of talents, you know you are getting where you want to be (at your own pace, of course), you know what you are doing makes you happy, but all that goes out of the window, and all it takes is a couple of the so called “concerns” (or everlasting nagging). Moreover, if worse comes to worst, you will still have your husband by your side whilst people like me will have no one.
    What’s even more ironic is that people complain about air pollution while buying more cars.
    Happy CNY to all of us. And, we will get through it like we always do, and if we are lucky, we may have a renewed and rejuvenated take on life afterwards :D.

  14. Thank you for again such an honest post. I can understand: Chinese culture can be quite status driven at times. But even when you think you have made it, there is ALWAYS something that people/family can find to criticize you. In my case, I had a successful career in Taiwan with a big apartment in a must-have address and lots of job status – but the in-laws were still unhappy, and hit instead relentlessly on the theme that I was a bad mother. For those detailed to bring you down, there will always be something.

    It takes courage to let go of letting others drive you. You are obviously a beautiful and successful person, and those that love you can see that.

  15. Love your honesty and introspection, Jocelyn. Chinese New Year sounds so tough! I felt a similar foreboding leading up to Christmas with my in-laws. While I know it’s not the same as pressure to have a baby, my weak point is not living up to the expectation that I should speak German by now. I’ve lived in Germany for 4+ years, and am still far from fluent in German. I feel intense pressure to improve, but there are a million reasons why I don’t feel like I can, or maybe don’t even want to. We also live a completely different lifestyle than my in-laws, and that also causees tension / misunderstanding, and like we are not living up to expectations.

    Ultimately, we all gotta live our own lives.

    Happy early new year to you! I’ll be celebrating CNY too, but in Europe! 🙂

  16. Oh the anxieties of life.. I hope you have a good holiday–enjoy delicious food, being alive, and having company. Don’t let other people’s opinions of self worth weigh you down too much. I’ll have to try the same. In the end, we’re all slowly destroying the earth and we all end up dead anyway. On a different note, I stumbled across your blog, perhaps half a year ago and I really enjoy reading it. It is quite charming and has a unique warm and welcoming feel to it–something or other, that you can’t quite place your finger on.

  17. Maslow’s self-actualizing characteristics
    Efficient perceptions of reality. Self-actualizers are able to judge situations correctly and honestly. They are very sensitive to the fake and dishonest, and are free to see reality ‘as it is’.
    Comfortable acceptance of self, others, nature. Self-actualizers accept their own human nature with all its flaws. The shortcomings of others and the contradictions of the human condition are accepted with humor and tolerance.
    Reliant on own experiences and judgement. Independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views.
    Spontaneous and natural. True to oneself, rather than being how others want.

    Hope these will be useful.

    Creating psychological distance from stress (time, space, mindset) will reduce pain.

  18. Jocelyn, as Taiwanxifu said, no matter what you do, people will always find something to criticize. I agree with your conclusion: listen less to their criticism, and more to your heart. Owning a house, a car or having kids doesn’t make you more worthy or a better person. You cannot live your life based on what other people expect of you (even if they are your family). But I know how CNY is and how Chinese people love planning other people’s life. 加油 these days!

  19. well Jocelyn, since I began to read your blogs couple years ago, I already knew that you are senstive woman, which might not be a bad thing. I knew how you are feelings, its just stress of life, and married with a Chinese man might be having alot differences and difficulties, expecially in countryside, Chinese people are having poor living conditions, so little something, strongly will make women win cerdits like you mentioned, having kids(boys perfered), being rich(having high paid jobs, own an apartment, and own a car) thats also basic conditions, most Chinese women will fall for guys and become their wives. so its cultural thing, maybe you are good or wonderful Yangxifu, you made the transit from american culture to Chinese culture, thats just step 1. and then you will take all those criticisms or face things for making another transits, which means giving a brith and become richer, then all Chinese family on john’s side will shut up. or you and him will have to cut off entire of family ties with John’s family, which He is probably going to agianist. Its tough, but if you are also a fan of the Walking dead, just imigne how hard for those people to survival on every day, Thats the life, so just think of some bright sides.

  20. @ Chengyong
    Jocelyn and John are partners in a marriage and expecting either one or the other to sacrifice who they are for the benefit of ‘face’ or ‘tradition’ of the other does not make sense.
    If they choose not to have a child at present, or own a car, it is their choice and should be respected. They are both adults capable of making informed decisions about their lives and marriage. Jocelyn did not get married to please either her family or Johns, but because it was the right thing for the two of them to do: THEIR decision.
    Having a child just to please the in-laws is never right.
    While traditions should be acknowledged on both sides, to be bullied into doing something or constantly harassed during what should otherwise be a happy family occasion just for the sake of ‘tradition’ does not make for happy memories.
    Telling other people to spend money on something they don’t want or need, or telling a couple to have a child is not ‘caring’ it is emotional blackmail.
    If in-laws are more concerned about local ‘face’ than the feelings of the family members involved is not real caring, it is just selfish.

    a cross-cultural relationship involves negotiation, communication, repesct and compromise. It is interesting that a friend of mine commented when he heard a mutual friend was dating a German that she was willing to leave a well paid job to be with him in Germany: and the most of the compromise was on the female side. And German culture has not as many differences between American and Chinese.

  21. Trust me, Jocelyn, you don’t wanna be like those brainwashed kidney selling iPhone buyers and people who drinking excessively to get business deals. Doing stuff you enjoy and being healthy is more important than saving face, you know behind those people’s fancy clothes and designer bags are cancers and liver failures due to stress and binge drinking, do you really
    want to wind up like that, you know it’s not worth it.

  22. Thanks again for another honest and heartfelt post. I know where you are coming from in regard to wanting at least to arrive in a car to new year. You must be under a lot of pressure from your husband’s parents. One thing you didn’t mention however is your husband’s reaction or experience with his parents. (Maybe you have talked about it before and I missed it.) Do they put as much pressure on him as they do you? And how does he react to them?

    I’m in a different situation because I’ve unintentionally given my in-laws everything they think they could have possibly hoped for (a child). It’s because my husband has always done his own thing, frequently going against his parents wishes in the process. He will be 40 this year and they are just happy that he finally got married. Everything is relative. It probably wouldn’t do any good but you could remind them that their son could still be single and unhappy. (Not saying single means unhappy but saying it like that might give them some perspective.)

    I do understand what the overall pressure is all about from Asian parents. They are coming from a time where people didn’t have much, and before they pass on they want to make sure that their kids have security, and that means cars, houses, children. These are also the things that are suppose to bring happiness in Chinese contemporary culture. So though they are annoying and persistent, it is coming from a fear that their offspring will not be well enough equipped to survive in the world without them.

    It is perfectly reasonable to want to give them something, anything to make them quiet down. Maybe someday you will have a car and an apartment and then they may be able to feel like they can relax a little. But having kids is a big deal. I don’t know what my husband’s parents would be saying now if we didn’t have KL. The kids thing is probably something you’ll have to hear about continuously. I am sorry that you have to deal with that.

    Going into meetings with the in-laws with a better attitude should help, and I am heartened to hear that it is your intention. Best of luck to you, stay strong. Remember, they’re only repeating what’s been drilled into them. They are a product of their culture without a chance to have expanded their minds and understandings. Try to pity them. They don’t know any better.

  23. It is difficult not to do things according to the “plan” in China. You don’t really get many second chances. I don’t think the in-laws have bad intentions. If you don’t build up a certain safety net, your life can be very difficult in China.
    Keep in mind China does not have an open policy in immigration. You are not eligible for any government funded programs and only have a narrow path to choose careers. In private sector, everyone there is working their asses off. In comparison, you might not be doing enough.

    It is easy to think about the different choices you could have made in US or other western countries. The individualism mentality was backed up by accumulated wealth and democratic values. In reality, people living there permanently also need to think about money and a house. It is just so much easier to get a car or buy a house. You can also do it anytime in your life.

    If you live in China long term, you might need to adopt some Chinese way of thinking.

  24. As a Chinese struggling my life in a western country, I face the same problem. But I think you can easily find a well paid job as English teacher in China, maybe you don’t want to be a English teacher, but you also can take it as part-time job.

  25. @Liang

    I don’t think English teachers get paid that well, if you really want to get rich in China, you need to own a business, but most importantly you need guanxi, but I doubt either Jocelyn or John has that kind of guanxi.

    1. @Chimin, English teacher earns about 200 RMB per hour 5 years ago, that is what I know, because I have a friend who actually paid the money to practice his oral English.

  26. @ Liang
    At the risk of changing this thread, it is illegal for a foreigner to do work of ANY kind if they are married to a Chinese national, unless they get the appropriate work visa (Z) and RP.
    The foreigner will have to apply for a work visa through the official channels or risk deportation and exclusion from China.

    Even starting a business requires the correct (different) visa, from the one a spouse gets.

    Unlike a number of other countries in the world where a foreign spouse CAN work automatically.

    1. @Sorrel
      I do know the stupid visa laws in China, but I think she can still teach English in China in certain form. I am not encouraging her to break law, sometimes we just need think outside of box, Jocelyn and her husband should figure out how to do it in proper way.

  27. @ Jocelyn,

    Don’t despair as better days are yet to come. Almost everyone will go through good times and bad times. I am certain that you remember you had good times such as your first Chinese boyfriendd and then the bad time of a breakup. Then you went through good times by meeting and marrying June. Now you may feel a little down, but don’t live your lives to appease others. Live your lives to make yourselves happy. I know that I had experienced bad times as well. When I just graduated from university, I had no job, no house, no wife, no girlfriend, no kids, no modern car (only an old beat up car) and was saddled with debts. I know how you feel, but in due time, you will reach your goals. Just hang in there, girl!!!! Don’t give up.

  28. Don’t worry too much about Chinese New Year , house, cars or money!!! You only live once and pleasing people won’t make you happy as a person. Like I ‘ve said many times here that you must be fulfilled with what you have in front of you. Do you think rich people with kids, houses, cars , wife are happy? The answer is NO. There is always something in life that will pull you down no matter how rich you are. Good luck to all.

  29. Dear Jocelyne,I red your blog for two month now.Your topics are very interesting,you describe very well some chinese people way of thinking and living.Sometimes it is very difficult to start a life with somebody from other country.But it is very easy if you have a good and caring person which is willing to stand by you,to understand and respect your needs.You have a very loving husband and this it is very good.From your posts I understood that his family loves you and made some efforts to have a nice home for you and John,very different from what they are used to.It is really nice and I know you apreciate this very much.The parents just want you and John to be happy.But for them and for majority,when you reached a certain age, the happiness comes with a good job,a house or apartment and children .I think it is so everywere, not just in China.We can’t blame them for wanting this.As a parent you want your child to have a comfortable life because this doesn’t hurt anyone.This it is not selfish (somebody said so).About the children,again,majority think they can bring happiness.We can’t blame them for that.Usually it is true.And the truth doesn’t need to bother us.Really ,you don’t need to suffer when you think they will begin with questions.They just care about you in them way .
    I think our way of living does affect our family .If their needs are different ,we can try to understand and comunicate.After all,we are family.
    Understand and respect eachother it is the key to a good relationship.
    You are a very nice person with so many qualities .Wish you happiness and good luck!
    I am living in Beijing for 21 years now and I am married to a chinese man.I find your blog very interesting and I apreciate very much your effort.
    I can share some of my experiences too.

  30. You are such a good person Jocelyn! I really enjoy your blog. I taught English in S.Korea for eight years. I have Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, Nepalese, and Indian friends. I’m older and my husband passed. But please be kind to yourself. Maybe you would enjoy this website and the message being presented:
    Enjoy! Keep on writing!

  31. I relate to this post a lot. Each time Chinese New Year rolls around and I visit some relatives with my parents – or the relatives visiting us – I always start wondering what they’ll think of me, what I studied, my so-call career that really isn’t going no where and why aren’t I hitched yet. In recent years I’ve told myself that I’m different, everyone is, and they are just being concerned for me. Or a bit of a aggressive way of showing concern 🙂

    Thank you for this very open, honest and heartwarming post, Jocelyn. You have achieved so much as a writer and blogger, and you should be proud of that and who we are. We’re all different, no two people’s stories are the same 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your touching and thoughtful comment! It’s a relief to know that other people have the same anxieties about going home for the holidays and facing the scrutiny of others. You’re right that it’s really about concern (I like your idea of calling it “aggressive”, so true!). I often remind myself that I’m a different person and that’s probably why I am apt to feel “out of step” in these situations.

  32. I really appreciate this post so much! I think you are very much in the norm of things here especially in light of age and culture. At times I have agonized over the same things. Although I am not perfect at it, I have come to the viewpoint that it’s more important that I take care of myself and the things I do have the best I have and strive to do the best I can everyday to give to the world. That’s all you can do. I think everyone here has said it better than I could…so I hope you have some peace in your heart!

  33. Ahh! Flashbacks to holiday gatherings with the family,

    “Why aren’t you married yet!?…what was wrong with [whomever they liked who was probably Asian]?!”

    Then there’s the rapid fire question technique, shame in a shotgun blast by grandma. “Are you engaged, at least? What are you doing with your time? Are you thinking of kids?”

    At least? Ive been busy! I just passed two bar exams, jeez gramma.

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