I am so inspired by one of my blogging friends — Rae’s blog post few days ago, so I asked her if I could make a blog post about it. She gave me the permission, there it is…
It’s going to be a long one, so if it’s tldr, just skip… OK?
On her blog, Rae told her story about her personal achievements. One particular story that I would like to highlight is the one where she found a courage to confont her superior at work. She stood up for herself and confront her superior at work, when she found out that her working ethics had been unjustly questioned. And when her superior listened to her, she apologised for being unfair, and acted professionally. Quoting from Rae’s post, “no hard feelings”.
Personally, I think this is incredible. I always assumed that Rae and I was brought up in a similar environment. Probably not exactly the same, but similar enough. At least that’s what I gathered from reading her blog. From where we come from what Rae just did few days ago was considered outrageous.
Before I went to the UK, and experienced myself the importance of assertiveness, I would not even dare to think about confronting a superior, a teacher, my parents, and elders. I was told to keep it to myself and not to disrupt the “peace” and put everybody in an awkward situation. I was taught not to make a fuss about “little things”, and just go on with the consensus. I was trained to put up with things, for the sake of the convenience of people around me. I was brought up believing that telling other people the discomfort they have inflicted upon me is bad.
This is why when I totally got it when Rae said: this is something that my old self would never do.
Well… I think this is just the perfect time to tell you one of the backstage stories about my wedding day that I promised you before. But before you go on reading, I would like you to think of it not as me grudging or regretting my wedding day. It was one hell of a day, no doubt, but I was happy nevertheless. I was only telling you one of the backstage stories 🙂
Long before the Indonesian wedding reception was planned, I have properly married to Mr. Fix-It in registry office in Norwich. So when my parents told me their wish to hold a celebration in Indonesia, I made an agreement with them that it will be small, and that I am not going to get married again. I told them that I understand that the objective of holding a party in Indonesia is to announce our wedding, and to show friends and relatives that: this is not a shotgun wedding, that I did not get married because I was pregnant out of wedlock, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Hence, there is no hidden marriage whatsoever.
Agreement made, I let my family in Indonesia deal with the preparation of the wedding. I just let them, trusting that they would hold on to the agreement.
But I should have known better. Nothing is weaker than a promise an Asian mother made to her daughter — to let the daughter to have what she actually really want. So the wedding got bigger, she wanted us to get married in front of god in the church –she did not even care if both Mr. Fix-It and I were non-believer, and she wanted the traditional Chinese ritual to be held as well.
My husband is White British gentleman whose knowledge about China is stretched as far as the Chinese takeaway restaurant 300 metres away from our house. And suddenly you expect him to start bowing around to little old Asian fellows? You should have the decency to at least warn me about it so I could prepare my husband so that he wouldn’t feel humiliated.
Anyway, one of the rituals required Mr. Fix-It to stay at the hotel for a night, and picked me up in the morning. Allegedly, it signifies how the groom picked up the bride from her family and bring her with him for the rest of his life. This time I could no longer stay silent.
So I told my mum, in front of my aunties and my dad, that it is not happening. I told them we’ve already married, and the mock ‘groom picking up the bride’ is silly. It’s my husband you’re talking about, and we have done the “not meeting the bride until the wedding day” bollock on our REAL wedding day in Norwich, eight months earlier.
She, and my dad took it really personal. It is as if I have challenged, not only their authority, but also their culture, their value, and mostly their convenient. They were very unhappy not because they realised that I wanted something different than “normal Asian bride” would want, but because I spoke out my mind, and disrupt the happy mood everyone’s having in the house.
So my mum told me to shut it up, and suck it up. She told me that everyone was happy for me, and I should be grateful everyone wanted to celebrate this happy day for me, that everyone cares. I don’t — but that does not matter, does it?
Rae’s story about confronting someone for the discomfort they’ve made her feel reminds me of this day (then, it is true that your wedding day is one of the most unforgettable day of your life). The Asian way of dealing with confrontation has been my personal battleground since ages ago. It sent me to the first voluntary counselling almost five years ago, and sent me back to another counselling when I was in the uni two years after.
It affected my relationship with my parents, my friends, my previous lovers, and of course my current husband. And it did not affect us in a good way.
I am telling you this, because this is not out of my introvert personality. Even Asian extroverts have problems confronting uncomfortable situation. They would happily divert the confrontation to different things, but almost never discuss fair and square about what truly bothers them.
I don’t blame my culture, and I don’t hate it either. I just think that there is a room for improvement. Not everybody has the luxury of being able to vent out in our blog like Rae and I. Not everybody has the privilege to experience the liberating moment of finally being able to stand up and confront, and just let loose for the first time.
That feels good.
Thank you Rae for opening this discussion (although not deliberately).