Today’s exercise consisted of 10 reps of 10 sets clean and press (finally got the name right). Nothing too complicated but I was focusing more on the form, remembering to squeeze my shoulder blades together and straightening my back when I lift the barbell from the floor etc. Quite a good workout and broke into a good sweat despite doing it in an air-conditioned room.
While I was half way through my sets, my overly concerned dad barged in to give his well meant advice, “Watch your back! Watch your posture! Don’t lift so heavy! You don’t have to give your best! 玩玩就好！”
As long as I could remember, my family has never encouraged me to do my best for any sports or hobby that I liked. When I was doing Taekwondo, they often advised me not to kick so hard, train so hard, stretch so much etc and when I go down for a run, they would never fail to advise me that breaking into a sweat is good enough, I do not need to run so fast etc. Even when I go to church, my parents would also tell me that I do not need to give my best. Just attending service regularly is good enough. The exception is with academic studies. That, even giving my bestest is never enough.
I guess this is pretty common for most Asian parents. I understand that these were well meant advice; they were afraid that we would hurt ourselves etc. But it seems like they are teaching their children to condone mediocrity. This is funny especially since I believe most parents would want their children to grow to be resilient and yet the very actions they do are encouraging their children to do the opposite.
Resilience can never be trained through acceptance of mediocrity. How can an athlete learn to be resilience when their coach encourages them to stop just because they feel a little bit tired or fear that they fall?
I think this is also the reason why most Asian children have very small dreams. Step into an American classroom and ask them about their dream, they would give you the most interesting answers. Some would want to be an astronaut to explore space. Some would want to be scientists to invent new drugs to treat cancer. Some would want to be a great musician etc. Step into a Singaporean school and you would see a big difference.
A couple of months ago, I got my form class to share with me what are some of their dreams. Some want to be doctors, some lawyers and some business women. I asked them the reason why they chose these occupations and they all answered me: Because these jobs are stable/ this is what my parents want me to be/ these jobs earn a lot of money. Comparing these responses, one can easily tell that their dreams are so small!
That day, I challenged the class to dream BIGGER:
Is life just about earning money and having a family?
Are you dreams so small that it is just about money?
If money and people’s opinions didn’t matter, what would you have done?
After giving them about 10mins to think about it , I asked for a response. Nobody raised their hands. Then, out from a corner a girl raised her hand.
“I think I would probably work with an organization to help needy people get food in our community as I feel for them…”
It was a seed planted…