Eye-Opening Moments Podcast

It Doesn't Pay to be Strong (and more)

June 11, 2024 Emily Kay Tan Episode 124
It Doesn't Pay to be Strong (and more)
Eye-Opening Moments Podcast
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Eye-Opening Moments Podcast
It Doesn't Pay to be Strong (and more)
Jun 11, 2024 Episode 124
Emily Kay Tan

Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about It Doesn't Pay to be Strong and Broken Habit.


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Books: https://amazon.com/author/emily-kay-tan.2021_

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about It Doesn't Pay to be Strong and Broken Habit.


Website: https://inspiremereads.com
Books: https://amazon.com/author/emily-kay-tan.2021_

Support the Show.



Comments or questions welcomed:
Twitter @emilykaytan OR https://inspiremereads.com.
Subscriptions appreciated: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1919670/support

Hello and welcome to episode #124 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about It Doesn’t Pay to be Strong and Broken Habit.

It Doesn't Pay to Be Strong
"Emily is strong; she can handle any challenge that comes her way. Drop her off the airplane and into the jungles of Africa or Papua New Guinea, and she will survive," said Auntie Cassie. "You need to be more like your cousin Emily," she'd tell her daughters. I don't know where Auntie Cassie got that idea; I don't know because all the courageous things I did were after I had long left home – the home where I grew up with her and my other aunties, uncles, and grandparents. I suppose it was a compliment, but I never internalized it as such because I was full of resentment and anger that I had to be strong to survive my life. It has taken decades to change that perspective from a matter of survival to being glad I acquired the skills to meet challenges. Being strong is supposed to be a quality one wants or works towards, but sometimes it doesn't pay to be strong, and it is no easy feat to maintain.

My friend Yasmine, my best friend in junior high school, chose me to be her bridesmaid when she was about to be married. She said she wanted me to be her maid of honor because I was her best friend, but her other friend, Trina, would not be able to "handle" not being her maid of honor because they were best friends in elementary school. Yasmine said I was stronger and could understand, but Trina could not deal with it. Thus, I was moved to second place and was a bridesmaid. Because I was stronger, I had to endure the pain of not being acknowledged as the best friend or maid of honor. It didn't pay to be strong.

Mom sent me to live with Grandma when I was five. She was a teenage mom who had three kids at the time and could not handle it all. Grandma offered to take one off her hands, and Mom chose me because I was considered the strong one who was low maintenance. Because Mom sent me away, my self-esteem and self-worth took decades to repair. Did it pay to be the strong one?

I lived in San Francisco when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake had a magnitude of 6.9. It shook the ground, causing fires, earth breaks, building collapses, and electrical outages. My grandparents moved there during their retirement, and the natural disaster was not helping them feel safe. I later learned all the relatives desperately tried to call my grandparents because they were worried for their safety. It was only natural, normal, and human to worry about them. After authorities repaired the electrical wires in my neighborhood, I called Grandma to learn that all was well with my grandparents. However, Grandma asked if my mom (her daughter) or any other relative had phoned me. I said no.

The next day, I received a call from my mom and Auntie Cassie. I was sure Grandma told them to call me to show a little concern for me. I told Auntie Cassie that by the time she called, I could have died already. So, don't fake the concern for me! Auntie Cassie said Grandpa and Grandma were old, so they needed to check on them. She said they didn't need to worry about me because I was strong and could care for myself. My inner voice said: But I am human, don't you think I would like to know anybody cared about me? Even if something did happen, none of the other relatives were in town to do anything to help. Because they labeled me as strong or could care for myself, no one considered me human, and I would like to know someone cared. It didn't pay to be strong. I was left heartbroken.

Even boyfriends did not come to my rescue when I got a flat tire or ran out of gas. Each only happened once, but it was enough to break my heart. My heart was crushed to feel that the ones closest to me didn't even show care for me. One said you could call AAA to bring you to the gas station. He was nearby and wouldn't come to give me some support. Of course, I could do that, and he knew I was capable. But couldn't he show up to show care for me? He said he didn't need to come because I could handle it myself. He didn't understand the heart of this lady who only wanted some TLC in a moment of a minor crisis. It didn't pay to be strong and self-sufficient.

The other boyfriend, who didn't come to my rescue when I had a flat tire, was heartless, too. Yes, I could call AAA for car troubles. I could call movers to help me move heavy things. I didn't need their help. They knew that. But they didn't realize their presence could help with emotional support. My strength only left me to fend for myself constantly and feel that no one cared. Once again, my strength and independence did not pay me well.

Only a few years into my teaching career, principals told me that challenging students were placed in my class because I could handle it. You are firm and strong, they said. You can manage them. I resented it. It made me work harder, while other teachers had it easier than me. How will they ever be a better teacher if they don't handle their naughty students? Why do the difficult ones have to fall into my hands? My abilities were not to my advantage; it wasn't fair, and I silently screamed about the injustice.

I always said that my strength resulted from fighting for my survival. It was only an instinct that any human would do, so it was nothing to admire. I held this stance with anger and resentment that I needed to fight for my survival constantly. It took many years before I could even begin to let go of that position. 

Perhaps it was through writing that I began to reflect and analyze the lenses through which I perceived many things and changed a few.

Since I had lots of practice in being strong, it strengthened me to handle adversity. One fortuneteller told me, "You have many hardships in your life, but you can handle all of them, so you need not worry! His few words gave me comfort because I worry a lot. He assured me I would overcome every challenge, so I didn't need to worry about the outcomes. So, the next time I had a difficulty, I would tell myself I would resolve it. 

I remember the saying: "The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer." Looking through new lenses, I say: The strong get stronger, and I am one of them. I can comfort myself by saying I am glad I am not one of the weaker ones because that is not what I want to be. I stand tall to say: Though being strong does not always pay, I am glad to become stronger and stronger each day. Typhoons or hurricanes, tornadoes or cyclones, torrential rains, and tsunamis blow me away or knock me down; I will stand back up again because I will stand up to show it pays to be strong. My strength will not go unutilized. My power will help me fight another abominable adversity. Face your challenges, and strengthen who you are. It will pay.

Broken Habit
When you break a habit, others may assume it is terrible. I thought I had a bad habit because others told me I had one. I had a habit of going on a first date, forming an impression about the other person, and quickly deciding whether I liked that person. Once I decided I didn’t like the other person, there was no second date. My friends said I was too quick to judge because I had many first dates and a few second dates. They said I needed to give others more of a chance. One day, I decided to listen and give someone a chance. I broke my habit, but was it a good idea?

I asked Anson to pick me up around the corner from where I lived. I never met him before and wanted to be careful. It was a misty day, and it was unexpectedly sprinkling outside. I stood there for ten minutes waiting for Anson. He drove up and parked his clean, pale blue Toyota Camry at the corner. I wasn’t sure it was him and hesitated to get in the car. He did not come out of the car to greet me but peered over to the passenger side of the car to look at me through the window and wave at me. Already, my first impression of him was terrible. 

Anson was ten minutes late for our first date. I was annoyed. I loathe people who are late, and being tardy was enough for me to cross him off my friend list. He didn’t get out of the car to greet me; I thought it impolite since it was our first meeting. I got in the car to see an ugly man, in my opinion. We had planned a trip by the ocean, but the weather was not good. As I got in the car, Anson suggested we go bowling. I wasn’t interested, but I was glad not to take a long trip to the ocean because that meant I would need to spend a whole day with him, and I didn’t want to after seeing him tardy, impolite, and ugly. Usually, the old me would say it was our first and last date.

The new me told me to stop being so quick to judge. So, I gave Anson a second date and many dates afterward. Anson was frequently late and always reasoned that it was the traffic. I learned that Anson cared much about his hair and didn’t like to get it wet in the rain or blown in the wind. That was why he didn’t get out of the car on our first date. I thought Anson was the ugliest man I had ever seen, but I did not think him to be so ugly over time. I hoped he might grow on me, but he never really did. The chemistry was never there. Still, I continued dating him, trying not to be so judgmental. He did have some qualities, such as being a planner. He came from a good family, had a stable career, and had no vices. He persevered in pursuing me, and I enjoyed being treated like a princess while we were dating.

One year later, we got married. Seven years later, I divorced Anson. What did I learn? I tried to break my habit of judging quickly on first dates and did it with Anson. I wanted to give it time, but it didn’t work. It didn’t change much. He was habitually late, which didn’t change for a long time. I didn’t have chemistry with him, which didn’t change over time. I could only say I was in love with having a boyfriend or husband, but I was never in love with him. After marrying him, I found more things hard to bear, such as his anality, nit-pickiness, and monstrous temper of screaming at me for two hours at a time.

Finally, I believe my first instincts or impressions are right. I have found them to be correct for the most part, so I will continue to trust my instincts. It is not altogether me being quick to judge, but my instincts tell me what I like or don’t like. I know best what I can tolerate. After all, I have to live with my choices, and the opinions of others are for them to keep. I say, trust your own instincts and ideas!

Key Takeaways: Though it may not feel like it pays to be strong, sometimes, each adversity makes us stronger and stronger.

Though you may break a habit, it could be for the better, but if not, trust your instincts and do as you wish.

Next week, you will hear about two real-life stories called Exits Taken and She Calls Every Day. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!

 


Introduction
It Doesn't Pay to be Strong
Broken Habit
Key Takeaways