My Asian-American Perspective: I wouldn’t be who I am without her

Did all these traits of my character develop over night? No, they took some time and a lot of nagging throughout my life from my Asian mother. In fact, she kept reminding me over and over again, “You’re going to thank me for this later.” (Tiomax80/Flickr Creative Commons)

Nagging. That word had a negative connotation for me when I was growing up. The source of the nagging was specifically from my mom. There was not a day when I wasn’t constantly reminded of something I was doing wrong.

Here are a few examples

I never pulled the hair out of the sink. I never pulled the hair out of the shower. I needed to get it done every night. Why couldn’t I do such a simple task? Was I lazy? It only took five seconds. Why would I let my mom do it for me? I’m older now.

Upon graduating from middle school, transitioning to high school did not mean I had graduated from the nagging. In fact, there was a lot more to be said now that I was nearing a level of adulthood.

The easiest topic to nag me about was school work. Yes, I was a part of many different organizations, but did I finish my homework for that night? That sounds nice that you are going to dinner with your friends, but did you study for that exam? Also, on the note of going out, maybe you should save your money so you can invest in something else later.

If academics was not a common nagging topic, my choice of clothing certainly was. Whether my outfit was too revealing, gave off the wrong impression or simply was not respectable to leave the house in, I heard it all. Going to the mall would be fun for the first 10 minutes. I would be able to sift through all the clothes and come back with a few items. That didn’t last long, as my mother would gaze over the pile and simply say, “No. Put it all back.”

College was when the worst of the nagging began to start. Did I eat today? Did I do my homework for the day? Where was I going? Who was I hanging out with at school? Why did I have so many friends that were guys and why couldn’t I find a good group of girlfriends instead? Did I moisturize my face every night? Was I running out of my acne cream?

I learned growing up that it was better to let my Asian mother do all the talking AT me, even though I wished that she would be talking WITH me instead. I remember having conversations with my friends about their mothers. They would call their mom a confidant, someone they could easily talk to. I would look at them in disbelief and ask, “You actually speak to your mom?”

I would take my mom’s complaints mutely, try to tune her out at some points because I was hearing the same complaints or criticisms every time, and try to move on with my life. I will say that before coming to college, I thought it would be a relief to get away from the constant nagging of my mother.

I just could not comprehend that she could relate to any part of my American way of life. The values that she grew up with could not apply to me. The nagging would not change me. I would not let it get into my head as I tried to determine who I was in college.

But the nagging did change me.

Let’s backtrack a little bit.

I do pull my hair out of the sink every time. It is much faster than trying to unclog at the end of the day.

I always prioritize my academics above other activities. It gives me a sense of reward when everything is done. I always feel relaxed hanging out with friends knowing that I am as prepared as I can be for an exam and that I checked off everything on my to-do list

It’s also really nice to open a wallet and be able to pull out a few bills. Instead of buying that coffee, filling up a water bottle means I can save that cash for the gas in my car. Not going out to eat with friends, opting to eat in a dining hall instead, means that money can go towards a nice birthday meal for one of my family members. I could pay for it and for everyone else.

I make sure to eat at least two or three meals a day. If not, I’m packing snacks in my backpack that are ready to go.

Whenever I go shopping for clothes, I gravitate towards the classic clothes, the ones that are easy to layer and are easily wearable for any season. It saves me money from buying the “trendy” or “fast-fashion” clothes that come out and last a lot longer.

My clear skin? That is all thanks to the acne cream from the dermatologist. The dermatologist that my mom kept insisting on for weeks that I make an appointment to go see.

Tiger moms are either to be admired, feared or a mix of both. The stereotype of a Tiger mom is that they will not let their child do any activities outside of the set schedule of their days. I did not grow up in that type of environment, but I did live with some of those elements.

Growing up in an Asian-American household for me meant constant hounding. I felt as if there were times when I did not have my own space, that I was constantly being scrutinized all the time. I now appreciate the life lessons that my mother tried to relay on me, even if I did not like her methods as a young child.

Did all these traits of my character develop over night? No, they took some time and a lot of nagging throughout my life from my Asian mother. In fact, she kept reminding me over and over again, “You’re going to thank me for this later.”

Thank you, Ma.


Kimberly Nguyen is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.nguyen@uconn.edu.