I don’t take compliment well

OakMonster.com - Disapproving Asian Father

It definitely is an Asian thing to ALWAYS be humble.

Humble even though the other side of the humble facade is the push to be the best at everything.

Get straight A’s. Excel in music. Be the best at dance. Win all the medals.

But NEVER tell anyone that you’re the best or agree with anyone else who tells you that you are the best.

Your parents and teachers always tell you that you’re good but not THAT good, and that you need to do better.  All at the same time, be humble about how good you are. Even if you’re the best, you can’t accept that you’re the best.

You go out there with your head low. Do your best…which is never good enough. Anyone tell you you were great, you shake your head.

“No, I’m not great. YOU’RE great.”

Your mouth will always tell people that you suck while your heart seems to go first to “I’m the fucking shit!” then quickly to “Nah. Not really. I’m being cocky. Someone else is still better.”

More or less…

Your friends and relatives, and perfect strangers would always compliment you. Your parents will tell them quickly, “Oh, he/she is not that good,” not only to be polite but to let you hear it, out loud, told to the world, that you’re still mediocre.

People can compliment all they want. You’re not to accept it.

Humble pies are served daily in most Asian household by Tiger Moms and Disapproving Dad.

So, no. I don’t take a compliment well.

A conversation with a typical American:

“Great job on that report!”

“Aw, thank you! I worked hard on that.”

“It’s an A+!”

“Pretty sweet, right?”

The same conversation with an Asian:

“Great job on that report!”

“Oh, no. That was not very good. But thank you.”

“But you got an A+!”

“There are still things I need to fix. But really, thank you. You’re very kind.”

Am I right?

So, no. I don’t take a compliment well.

The pressure for us to be perfect and yet humble has always been a constant battle culturally and psychologically.

Fucked up? Yeah, I know.

Now, substitute all the things about your skills with your physical appearance.

Same damn thing. Probably more fucked up actually because unlike your skill set, it’s harder to change how you look.

Life under scrutiny. Every aspect of it.

One exception to the rule here though.  You get to wallow in the compliment if you are indeed pretty. That’s one thing you get to fake being humble and get away with it.

There’s an article recently written by a Chinese-American about the “Asian Perfection” perception that we all have to uphold.  We may think we’re not affected by it, but deep down, we are.

I’ve been brought up this way too. Still being called “fat” every time I visit home.

The good news is that I’ve always been sure of myself and had plenty of confidence to go around. I’ve always known who I am and what I wanted to do, so I didn’t feel like I have to conform to anyone. (A huge reason why I’m a kept sister.)  I’ve always been happy with my appearance, knowing full well I do not fit “the standards”. Not one bit.

It bewilders me to find out that other people are okay with how I look. *sigh* Alright, I’ll say it. Urgh. Gah.  Some people even find me attractive.

Case in point, the man I’m married to thinks so. 😉

It has taken years to deprogram myself to accept that fact.

So, no. I don’t take a compliment well.

But I’m working on it.


  1. christine   •  

    i. love. this. and screw everyone else… my oakz is beautiful, brilliant and i am proud to call her my soul sister! xo

  2. OakMonster   •  

    Aw chucks. You’re a doll, soul sister!

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