Last week I had a conversation with my friend about helicopter parents. Her helicopter parents. They won’t let her have a boyfriend (she’s a sophomore in college) and they force all of their values onto her. They feel a need to be in control. She wants to abandon her religion, but she can’t. She has to please her parents; she doesn’t want her parents to be disappointed in her.
Her behaviour is completely normal; no one wants to disappoint other people, especially their parents. But disappointing others happens. And it’s okay that it happens. If your parents love you, they won’t care what path you take. If they can’t accept you for your true self, then that’s on them. If you show your parents who you truly are; if you make an effort to have a relationship with them and they still don’t accept you, then that will be their regret. Your regret will always be not being true to yourself.
My parents were raised during the Cultural Revolution. Back then, you were told what to do and you didn’t question it. So they — along with many other Chinese parents — took this mentality with them as they raised their kids.
But I don’t like being told what to do. Whenever I was told to take out the trash, I would fight them. It takes two minutes to take the trash out, but I would spend 20-30 minutes arguing with them. I didn’t want to take out the trash. Especially not after they told me to. I’m really rebellious.
From an early age, I established my individuality. I wasn’t afraid to fight my parents. I wasn’t going to settle for their vision of me, I needed to be who I really was. And I have a good relationship with my parents. We talk every couple of days and I tell them things most kids wouldn’t tell their parents (like going out and hosting parties). I don’t hide anything from them. Our relationship is so good because I don’t need to constantly please them, I just be myself.
You can’t let other people define who you are, and what makes you successful. You have to define those things. You have to be the hero of your own story. You create your own identity. If there’s something that you really want to do, then do it. Do what feels right. We’re all born with innate interests, find out what yours are.
When you get the courage to step up to whoever is defining you, break their definition and create your own, then you’ll be much happier in life. You’ll do things that you truly want to do and not things that others want you to do. You’ll be more successful, you’ll have more fun, you’ll live a better life. Life only lasts so long. Don’t waste it on pursuing other people’s dreams, pursue your own dreams.
Today, the friend I talked to about helicopter parents told me that she’s dating someone. It’s against her parents will, but she has to please herself. It’s a good first step. Be like her; do what you want to do. But eventually, she’ll have to face her parents and tell them how she really feels, what she really wants to do. When that happens, she’ll have finally broken their definition of her and she can finally create a definition of her own.
12 responses to “Be the hero of your own story”
As teenagers and young adults, we are working toward establishing an identity. Since we are becoming more in control of our own identity, it leads to a growing sense of independence. Parents aren’t usually ready to let go – they want to continue having control over their children’s identity, because as parents, that’s their job.
My dad had always wanted me to be a doctor. As a child, I was directly influenced by this – and that’s okay, because when we’re young, we need our parents to help us grow and build our values.
But as I grew older, I became more disenchanted with the idea of medical school and becoming a doctor. It wasn’t me. But I couldn’t admit that. How could I? I owed it to my dad to become a doctor, because he had raised me that way.
It took several years before I overcame this denial. I wanted to study physics. That was who I was. I knew if I did anything else, I would not be nearly as happy. I told my dad this, and it didn’t go well.
But I kept pushing for it, and here I am as a physics major.
Sometimes I put myself in my premed suitemate’s place: how would I feel, taking organic chemistry, biology, and doing research in the medical school right now? I’d probably pretty miserable.
But I’m not. I’m creating my own story – and I’m much happier because of it.
Yeah, that’s the story for a lot of people. It’s good that you caught it early; you don’t want to wake up one day at age 30 and realize that you’ve been living your parents’ vision of your life and not your own life.
I always loved to do art. When I was 6, I started drawing, but my mom told me it can only remain as a hobby, and that I can never be a professional artist. My mom just wanted me to be successful, and she kept telling me to become a doctor.
However, after I went to high school, I took AP art, and even my mom was impressed by my talent. After she saw my artwork she said I could go to art school if I wanted to, however I still chose to become a doctor.
I was influenced by my mom, and never thought about becoming anything else. But ultimately I agreed with her, but if I really wanted to become an artist, I would have as well. 🙂 No one should be able to control your life, just take your parent’s ideas as “advice” and not a “guideline”.
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Telling my parents I don’t believe in “our” religion was the hardest thing I probably have ever done! Nice post
It’s really hard to get the courage to stand up against your parents for something you believe in. Once you do it though, you feel so much better; so much freer.
Another great post, Patrick! Loved it.
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