As a second-gen immigrant growing up in Australia, I can confidently say that I’ve felt the pressures that the Asian community places on women – directly from family and indirectly from outsiders. Watching the SK-II ‘The Expiry Date’ film resonated with me deeply on many levels because I’ve experienced it firsthand and watched others around me succumb to the societal pressures we place on one another.
From the ripe age of 4, I started learning my multiplication tables and by the age of 6 my parents had enrolled me in weekend coaching colleges. From then until my final high school examination, the focus was on achieving academic success. I was going to be a successful woman, climbing the corporate ladder and earning the “big bucks” after I graduate from university. In just my second year of completing my double degree in Actuarial studies and Applied Finance, I realised I wasn’t discovering a passion for the subjects. I asked my family if I could forego the actuarial element of my degree. The mere suggestion was out of the question, causing great uproar amongst my family. To satisfy their expectations, I kept with my degree unchanged. Three years of blood, sweat and tears later, I finally graduated. Hoorah.
Now it was time to chat about finding my potential life partner. He needed to be tall, at least 4 years older, handsome, no tattoos, holds a respectable career and established in life. I always thought it would be easier to get play dough and mold my own ‘perfect’ man. First relationship seemed promising when I travelled quite literally across the world to meet his family, and he mine. We all thought we would tie the knot and live happily ever after but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. On reflection, I think my family took it harder than I did. Why? It meant another year or two of waiting for the next one who could potentially be the father of their grandchildren. Fast-forward 3 years of relationships and on and off dating, I met another that I thought was the one. Without giving everyone the long winded saga, here is the abridged version – girl meets boy at a club in Shanghai, we fell in ‘love’ (or what they thought was love), got engaged after six months (at the request of mother dearest), boy relocates from China to Oz, we marry nine months later in Germany, return to Oz, and separate six months after due to irreconcilable differences.
Not surprising when the timeline of our relationship from the point we first laid eyes on each other to the point we parted ways was a total of only two and a half years. Why did I go through with it all? I had doubts even the night before I was to walk down that aisle in my beautiful Vera gown – but backing out wasn’t an option when I was going to let down a myriad of people in my immediate and extended family.
Until the age of 25 I was living the life that was expected of me by my family and the constant vocal reminder that no matter how attractive a woman is, they lose their worth after the age of 30 – and it’s game over if you go beyond 35. Heck, I still have friends who freak at the thought of being single at the age of 27 and not being able to ever find the right man.
The moment in the film that got me thinking was when all three women realised that by changing the way they perceived their own worth and started thinking and living their lives for themselves was when they broke free of their figurative shackles. For me, that turning point was making the decision that I was unhappy in my marriage and decided to move away for a short period to de-clutter my life with unnecessary external pressures. I’ve never been happier with a decision that I’ve made. At first it was hard for my family to accept (I was called worthless at some point) but in time they’ve come around and agreed that I made the right decision. They’ve learnt to be happy for me because I’m doing things in my life that I would be proud to tell my children.
The past two years has been a focus for me to do things that make me happy and this included travelling to new places on my own, quitting the job that made my family so proud but was slowly draining the life out of me and started dating a man that quite literally gave my grandmother a heart attack after seeing how inked he was. I’m well into my 27th year of living and can proudly say that I don’t live with any regrets and encourage every young woman out there to leave behind this artificial storybook that they feel that they must achieve in life and just start living.
I’ve quite happily told my family that I’m more than content to live out my days single as long as staying single is what makes me happy. Of course I’m lucky to have found someone who does make me happy but there was never any pressure for me to do so.
How does everyone else feel about societal age-related pressure?
#INeverExpire #ChangeDestiny #SKII #InPartnershipWithSKII
This post has been created in collaboration with SK-II.