These days, I feel like I’m becoming more and more like my parents. It fascinates me, because I used to think I was really different from them.
I grew up as a passionate Christian, attending church every day of the weekend, going on mission trips to Mexico every summer vacation, talking to friends about God in my every day conversations, while my parents were not religious at all. I thought my parents were in danger of going to hell. My mom thought it was nice I believed in something. My dad thought I was just getting scammed.
In high school and college, I considered myself to be a super considerate person. I would always be concerned about my friends’ everyday problems and stay up all night calling or texting them in an attempt to comfort them or come up with solutions. My mom and dad claimed to hate their friends (or hate people in general). I thought they were very selfish. They thought I was wasting my time.
I was–and still am–very insecure. I secretly obsess over every comment made about my appearance, wondering if everyone thinks I’m ugly. I stress over how to talk to people, wondering if everyone thinks I’m awkward. And these days, I feel lost at my new job, wondering if this is what I want to do, wondering if anyone realizes that I have no idea what I’m doing.
My parents, on the other hand, always seemed confident in themselves. My dad boasts that he is the handsomest man in the world. My mom has no problem being direct with people, even if it means yelling at a stranger over a disagreement. They seem to be people who like themselves, who do whatever they want to get what they want. They don’t care what others think of them.
I used to think I was so different from my parents, but these days I realize that I’ve been changing. I’m becoming more and more like them. Or maybe I was subconsciously just like them all along.
I am now no longer a Christian. Like my cynical father, I view my experience at the church like it was a whole big scam. But like my mother, I like the idea of religion. It’s nice to think that someone or something out there is taking care of us, although I can’t bring myself to completely believe that anymore.
I no longer think of myself as considerate. I think that I am pretty selfish. And I’m okay with that. I now understand my parents when they say they hate people, because thinking about other people tends to get really stressful. I used to freak myself out trying to go out of my way to be people’s super friend throughout college, whether it meant pulling all-nighters just to talk through other people’s problems, or buying them nice things in an attempt to make them feel better. Now, I understand what my parents mean when they say it is a “waste of time” trying to solve other people’s problems. No matter how much I stress over another person’s problems, I can’t solve anything. In the end, we are all responsible for making ourselves happy. I can only do so much as a friend, watching on the sidelines, taking care of myself.
I guess the only thing that hasn’t really changed is that I was, and still am, very insecure. What has changed is my realization that my parents are actually pretty insecure themselves. My dad claims that he’s handsome, smart, and popular, but according to my mom, he’s actually very shy and easily gets hurt by other people’s words and actions. He tells my mom that he feels no one respects him, and I feel like that may be his way of saying he’s afraid no one likes him or cares about him. As for my mom, I always thought she didn’t care what other people thought of her either, but these days I notice she tends to shrink in front of non-Koreans and mumble her words. She always asks me if she looks okay before we go out. She gets self-conscious–about her broken English and about her looks. I think she only yells at people sometimes out of frustration because she doesn’t like it when she has to repeat herself so many times to eventually be understood.
It’s strange to realize how similar I am to my own parents. And although I’ve mostly identified the negative things that we now share–our cynicism, selfishness, and our insecurities–I’m actually happy that I’m becoming more like them. It makes me feel closer to them in a way–like I’m starting to understand how they think and feel. It makes me look forward to growing even older, to getting even closer to where they are in their lives. But I really dread having a kid of my own. I hope my future kid is not as annoyingly Christian or a tryhard like I was. But I guess we all go through dumb phases for a reason.