As I travel, I meet lots of people and cultures. And the most hilarious conversations are often about our differences: how we gaffed a cultural mis-understanding and how we laughed ourselves to tears when we realized what happened.
A friend once invited me to an event called MetoWe. She raved about it. And I'm sure it's grand and very special to all attendees. But I didn't say yes right away.
I mulled and mulled over what the point of the event was. Me to We. Me... to... We. And lightning!
Buy experiences, not things. Indonesia 2015 © Ellany Lea
There is ONLY We
Bam! Lightning struck. I didn't share her enthusiasm because my head couldn't understand the concept of any alternative other than We. Whether it's my Chinese heritage, my family's values, my parents' parenting choices, there is only We.
There is always and ONLY We. You do whatever it takes to give to the We. You sacrifice, you save face, you contort yourself like a pretzel for the sake of the greater We. There is ONLY We.
What do you mean there's a "Me"?
And then Bam! Second lightning stuck. Wait, are you implying that there's a "Me"?
Woah... Hold the presses!!!
Are you suggesting that there's such a thing as Me?!?!?!? What's that? What's Me? <insert shock>
Doesn't everybody contort themselves into a pretzel to accommodate the greater good? Doesn't everybody beat themselves into a pulp to give to the greater whole? Doesn't everybody sacrifice their own blood, sweat and tears to please the greater We?
No, no they don't, Ella
No, no they don't, Ella! Just you. And perhaps you. And you, yes you over there in the red sweater.
So here are the 10 things white people taught me, which is the same as the 10 things I never knew existed.
10 Things I Never Knew Existed
Self-care: Self-care is not selfish. They taught me this things called “Me time” where you prioritize Me over We. Novel!
Full permission: I am allowed to do what I want before what my family expects of me (woah! pooooooff! bam! waaaam! mind blown!)
Self-expression: Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. -- Dr Seuss ← white guy. You mean, I get to be who I want to be and not what I’m expected to be?!? My mind would totally be blown if it weren't already in smithereens.
Self-respect: I am allowed to set boundaries and say no. Whaaaaaaat?!? Really?!? :O
Self-Love: Love above all else. Hard to believe when you’re brought up with duty, obligation, and filial piety as your guiding compass…
Joy: Life is about enjoying the journey. You mean it’s not about being in national newspapers and on national TV so my parents have something to brag about to their friends? Oh.
Life purpose: You mean I’m not born to be my parents retirement savings account? I can discover and live out my life purpose. Woooaaaaahhhhh.
Self-worth: I am good enough. Put $10,000 toward parents’ car, not good enough. Moved entire family to the other side of the country for a more comfortable retirement for my parents, not good enough. Put a $20,000 down-payment on parents home, not good enough. Sigh.
Feel fear: You mean, you don’t just numb out by working like an ox? You’re allowed to feel? I’m gonna faint very soon.
Failure: You are allowed to fail, because failure is the greatest teacher. No :O You aaaaare? <fainted>
There's a lot of "self" in that list. There is such a thing as "Me". Who knew!
- In the comments, share what white people have taught you! This is gonna be fun to read :D
Thank you for being a lone nut, a leader, and a friend! <3