Asian Girl Problem #127: Being Excellent To Oneself

Signs I’ve Mellowed Out (Or Why 27 Is Way Better Than 26)

  1. I don’t do commit to any social activity I’m not interested in
  2. I feel less anxious about food and body issues
  3. I rarely feel like I’m missing out when I stay home on a weekend
  4. I don’t feel so pressured to act like the person I think my parents want me to be
  5. I blaze more because there’s less risk of unleashing anxieties
  6. I enjoy slow and sometimes sad music for the first time since high school
  7. I single-task better and enjoy it more, whether it’s reading, listening to a podcast or doing yoga at home
  8. I worry less about dating and making the “right” impression on people
  9. I don’t feel like doing high-intensity workouts and don’t care if I’m losing my “edge”
  10. I initiate more conversations with strangers, while also caring less about being liked

Based on an unofficial poll, 27 is the age when people begin stressing about a lady’s single status in China. It’s paradoxically the prime time of my life, as well as a cue for the clock to start ticking a little louder every day until I “settle down” or turn 40. Of course, people will start giving up earlier than that–somewhere around 35.

Luckily I’m not held to the same standards, having been severed from China and most bossy relatives (except my mother, who I’ve yet to escape). I get a few more years before I earn the old maid apron. However, I did inherit something meaningful from my mom several years ago–her wedding ring.

The kind of ring I hope to get from that special someone

If you knew her, you’d know she’d never want a wedding ring. It was more accurately a regular $40 ring from a department store in Ohio that my dad bought her shortly after immigrating to this country, when they’d earned enough money to take care of their initial bills and expenses. According to her, she didn’t see the need, but he insisted on getting some token to symbolize the union–probably one of the only attempts he’s made to assimilate to America.

Before Western culture took over, wedding rings were not a thing in China. My parents put on their best clothes, went to the offices to get the marriage license and take a photo together, and later hosted a dinner party, where they would get some gifts, like blankets to conceive on (I don’t know why I say this stuff except that I like to gross myself out).

So when they came to America my dad finally put a ring on it. It was a cute, tiny little ring just like my mother, with a “diamond” so small I’ve never really seen it. Smaller than a fleck of glitter, and if it didn’t catch the light on sunny days, I would’ve denied its existence.

True to character, my mom never wore it because she said it felt awkward and got in the way of cooking and washing dishes. So when I saw it in her things one day as a teenager, I convinced her to give it to me in exchange for my $5 swap meet mood ring. We were both very pleased with the trade and wore our rings for many years after that.

I have a few friends who wear rings to remember their contract to themselves–the most important marriage one can be in, and the one that never ends. The relationship you’ll never escape, and has the most power to determine your short time on earth. Although I’ve stopped wearing any jewelry for many years, I’m tending more to the relationship with myself again, and every day I discover new aspects of self-care, feel more comfortable in my own skin, and more at peace with future unknowns.

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