As a child, my culture and my environment influenced me. I was taught what was right and wrong. My parents tried to make their definition of right and wrong to me as clear as possible. If I didn’t do what they thought was the best for me, I got punished. The most important part of my childhood was doing well in school. My mom would slap me if I didn’t do my homework right, or got a “bad” score on my exam. With a 97 in math and 96 on the Chinese final in my first grade, I ranked the seventh out of twenty-one people in the class and my mom was furious at my score. She believed I had the potential to do better. She pushed me to the point where I was constantly ashamed of my grades and afraid of getting punished for having them. In my entire elementary school years, I worked hard to keep up with her constantly rising request about my grades. At one point, she even made a pact saying if I get anything below 95, I would get slapped however many times the score I got subtracted from 95.
I didn’t quite understand why those scores were so important, all I knew was that if I didn’t get them, my mom wouldn’t happy which won’t make me happy. I only obtained those grades for my mom. I felt a little to no enjoyment in learning. Moving into middle school, my mom shifted her attention on my grades a little. Since I didn’t do well enough on the entrance exam to get myself into one of those famous middle schools, my class rank was rather high in the school I went to. With my leadership ability, people elected me the class president and I was given quite a bit of authority in the class. For example, during study hall, I would be responsible to keep my classmates quiet since no teacher would be present. For the first time in my life, I began to consciously think about my self-existence, and felt the pride and joy of myself. My motivation for working hard on my grades changed. It shifted from to make my mom happy to make myself happy. My teachers complimented me when I got good grades. And I felt more respect from my classmates when I did, too.
Before I finished my first year in middle school, an astonishing twist doubtlessly changed my life. I was invited by my father to go to America. I wasn’t too sure what was ahead of me but I took the offer because America is a dreamland to many Chinese. After I arrived on the American soil, I realized the change was huge. The difference in customs, cultures and school systems all made me wonder. I slowly began to analyze the difference. I examine the differences by looking into its advantage and disadvantage comparing to the Chinese way of life that I was similar with. My perspectives of the world suddenly became so much wider. I realized before I was only sitting in the bottom of a well looking above into the sky. I thought the sky was a limited piece of resource until I began to see it from a different angle. Sophomore year in high school, I wrote an essay called “Grafted”.
Moving from one side of the earth to the other, I have been grafted like a plant. Encountering new and refreshing environment in the western atmosphere sped up my maturity. In merely four-and-half years, my attitudes toward numerous things have transformed dramatically. Experiencing novel pressures, cultural differences, and modern technology, has had a tremendous influence in my definition of myself (Grafted).
There is no doubt moving to this country gave me fresh air to breathe and new scenes to encounter. My family life was another influence for the process of becoming myself. It is hard to put in words how exactly my family had shaped me. It tremendously depressed me and yet made me strong and independent. At one point, my mom stalked me to school to yell at me when my father and I moved out. She accused me of provoking my dad to divorce her , which wasn’t true. All I wanted was peace after she told me how my dad looked like a clown after she threw an iron trash can on his face. Among all the chaos and pain, I learned to put together my own truth toward life. Formulate my way of handling my emotions and decisions to avoid repeating my parents’ mistake and to stay sober and happy. Washing my face with tears made me question so deeply about the meaning of life. Love and care was nowhere to be found. A sense of urgency was to break out of the dreadful family cycle. I spent as much time as school as possible. After I found a job, I worked long hours.
For a long time, I felt I was alone walking in a sand storm where the most fundamental peace and happiness were impossible to obtain. I thirsted for love and care and I looked everywhere. When hope was depleting, I learned to look out outside of my immediate circle. I cherished anyone’s care for me even if it was just a hint. It was very important for me to share my thoughts with those who would understand. I wrote long letters to friends I met online and in real life. It was a strange feeling at first because I thought I was merely sending outcries of hopelessness. When I started to get response all over the world, I realized I was not alone after all. It made me weep. It was touching beyond belief. I walked into a new world – castles and treasures everywhere. I perhaps was only a small part of the new world, but I learned to become satisfied.
Philosophers probably have categorized my entire process of growth thousands years ago. They probably have given it a name where they teach in psychology class. But when it is my total self-realization, it is different. I have lived through the most unstable (at least I believe it is so far) part of my life. During that stage, I never stopped wondering. My definition of life and myself had been redefined over and over. It all came to the peace of oneself – the biological and mental balance. I live not for its conclusion since everyone can predict the conclusion. If life were subjected to death, nothing is meaningful. However, if life were subjected to transform and process, the world would look different. I see that as the goodness of my truth.
I now have the ability to change, to adapt to the new environment, to modify myself for a better self. I constantly change to stay happy and satisfied. This however doesn’t mean I no longer have requests for myself. The balance lies in my short turn goals and my ability to reach them. If my goals had a standard too high, I lower my goals, and if my ability didn’t stay in the range of my satisfaction, I improve it. The measurements of the two come from my previous experiences. I understand what I was capable of doing from the life I’ve already been through. I believe this basic principle can get me through whatever years ahead of me. It’s however also subjected to change once I feel I’ve reached an even better understanding of myself. Life is after all never truly predictable and that’s the truth that makes us wonder, make mistakes, cry, laugh and set goals.