Ever since I was little, my granddad and dad would call me "sweetheart money tree" as a term of endearment. I never knew what it meant until I had my first burnout at 18, from working quadruple overtime to earn as many scholarships and internships as possible, so I could attend university (first female in my lineage to ever go to college, woot!) and financially support the family at the same time.
What is Filial Piety?
Even though I was born the eldest, I came out the wrong gender. But, despite my disappointing gender, I was not relieved of my eldest son duties. You see, in my culture (and probably in yours too, if you're not white), it's the eldest son's job to care for his elderly parents. Basically, we are their retirement savings account.
It's not even a duty thing, it just is. This is called filial piety. You don't question it. You take it as a given. You have no clue that there's any other alternative. It's just who you are and what you do. You might not like it, but you must.
The Weight of Hopes + Dreams
With that filial piety, comes the big, fat, heavy weight of carrying our immigrant parents' every hope and dream. It is our duty to fulfill every dream they didn't, no matter how impossible. It's our duty to show tangible, financial and status proof that their immigration and hardship was worth it.
The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.
– Carl Jung
And so, we study like mad, get into the best universities, get PhDs and MBAs, and then work for the world's top companies, in hopes of fulfilling their hopes and dreams. I know in my world, I was given 4 career choices: doctor, lawyer, engineer or failure. Some Chinese families have a slight twist with: doctor, lawyer, accountant or failure. You pick.
Awakening Is Inevitable
And once we've reached the top of the corporate ladder in a state of soul aridity or reached the pits of despair/depression in a hospital emergency room, we awaken to the marionette show that was our life.
I woke up early, at 18, when I was cramming for finals in my hospital bed (had to get 100% plus the bonus points!!). I had so many books and notes open that they got constantly entangled in my IV drip. I could see the nurses' faces (I was still under the pediatric care unit) and I could tell that their hearts were breaking for me.
But I had no choice, if I fail to be academically perfect, I don't get scholarships, I don't get to go to University, I don't get the sweet job, and I don't get to be who I'm truly meant to be: my parents' golden retirement savings account. I couldn't let that happen!
So even though I had a nano-moment of awakening, I didn't change my ways. I couldn't. My brothers would go hungry and my parents would be shamed in the eyes of their family and friends when they don't retire in comfort.
Let the Overcompensating Begin!
And so the game begins: I, like so many eldest children from immigrant families, became responsible for everything and everyone. I wore so many hats:
- I wasn't just the family babysitter, I was an early childhood educator at 5, to the point where my baby brother once lovingly tapped my hand, when I was strapping him into the backseat, to tell me, "You'll make a great mother someday." He was 3. 🎩
- I was the dishwasher 🎩, washing machine 🎩, housekeeper 🎩, lawn mower 🎩, leaf raker 🎩, landscaper 🎩, mold remover 🎩, handyman 🎩, home renovator 🎩, and interior designer 🎩 (albeit this last role I quite enjoyed, I love creating warm and beautiful spaces). 🎩
- I was the translator since I was old enough to read. 🎩
- I was the family tax accountant 🎩, banking customer service rep 🎩 and financial advisor by 14. 🎩
- I was a personal assistant 🎩, chauffeur 🎩, and soccer mom by 21. 🎩
- I was the perfect role model 🎩, tuition funder 🎩, retirement savings fund. 🎩
- I was the estate manager 🎩, power of attorney, and legal representative the day I turned 19. 🎩
- I was the best co-parent to my brothers (as dysfunctionally best as I could be at 10 years old). 🎩
- I was my mom's best husband that she never had. 🎩
- I was my dad's best wife that he never had. 🎩
- I was their marriage counselor 🎩, peace keeper 🎩, mental health professional 🎩, EQ therapist 🎩, communication coach 🎩, prosperity consciousness teacher. 🎩
- I was the family social events organizer 🎩 and travel agent. 🎩
- I was their designated IT technician and e-support line. 🎩
I had my own hats to wear as well outside the family:
- I was the best mom I never had. 🎩
- I was the best dad I never had. 🎩
- I was the best grandmother I never had. 🎩
- I was the best soul sister I never had. 🎩
- I was the best big brother I never had. 🎩
- I was the best husband I never had. 🎩
And add to that the 4 businesses that I was running, because we've been conditioned to over-compensate for everything and everyone. You probably have/had 3-4 businesses, am I right?
- Business no. 1 • Guide to Grace Coaching: CEO 🎩, COO 🎩, CFO 🎩, CMO 🎩, CTO 🎩, CHRO 🎩, CPO 🎩
- Business no. 2 • Antigravity Yoga Studio: CEO 🎩, COO 🎩, CFO 🎩, CMO 🎩, CTO 🎩, CHRO 🎩, CPO 🎩
- Business no. 3 • Inner Outer Wealth Training: CEO 🎩, COO 🎩, CFO 🎩, CMO 🎩, CTO 🎩, CHRO 🎩, CPO 🎩
- Business no. 4 • Adastra Digital Consultancy: CEO 🎩, COO 🎩, CFO 🎩, CMO 🎩, CTO 🎩, CHRO 🎩, CPO 🎩
That's a loooooot of hats! It's no wonder we're f*cking exhausted!!!
And this is not counting all the elderly / hospice care, parenting your own kids, integenerational trauma passed through nature (DNA) and nurture (unconscious programming), Mercury retrogrades, solar flares, geomagnetic storms, chakra activations, 3D to 5D ascensions, kundalini rising, etc. etc. etc. 🤪🥊🥊🥊
Can you relate? How are we still alive? How are you still alive?
COMMENT with a list of aaaaaall your hats, and I'll share it with our GTG Community, so they don't feel so crazy or alone.
We've all been there, and we'll all exit the tunnel. All of us, no one gets left behind!
“These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”
― Najwa Zebian