Although this may seem foreign to some, there is an expectation for Asian kids to “take care” of their parents as they grow older. There is a Korean tradition in which you give your first paycheck to your parents. I also gave a portion of my paychecks as a teacher to my mom. With the operative word being “teacher”, my contribution wasn’t a healthy amount, but it felt good being able to do it.
Since entering this wacky, unpredictable industry, it has been more difficult to help out my mom. And I’ve been feeling like a selfish, bad Asian daughter. It doesn’t help that she’s a widow of almost 30 years, and I’m practically the only family she’s got. I have a severe guilt complex that started with feeling bad for being born (I was an accident. Yaaaay.)
So when I receive phone calls like this, which inevitably lead to her hysterically asking me what I’m doing with my life at such an old age, I stress out. And that’s why I hung up. I couldn’t take it anymore.
Thoughts of applying for that assistant position at the investment firm, the paralegal job, and all the other hundreds of Craigslist listings were swimming in my head. I started to get really angry at my brother for not being there to help this situation. I fumed at the stupid nonexistent Prince (old King?) Charming that hadn’t swept my mother off of her feet yet and wasn’t there to fix her AC when it’s broken and I’m not there to help. Fine! Screw this, it’s time to say good bye to acting. I would resign to moving back home and just being what she needed me to be.
Then I came to my senses. Thank you, Corona, ice cream, and TTT (time to think). In the book Conversations with God, one of the huge culprits in why we don’t fulfill our roles in life/biggest dreams is because we veer off the path. We get scared, we go for something easier, etc. Whether you believe in God or not, there is realistic validity in the statement.
I have been in NYC for 2 years. I’ve been seriously pursuing this for a year (I had some job distractions the first year…yeah, I took the comforting route & took a couple of full time gigs) and REALLY felt a change in momentum this past May. My mom doesn’t understand the knowledge and contacts I’ve acquired little by little this whole time I’ve been here. She won’t know what it means that my resume has been shedding background and extra work and getting replaced with bigger parts. She doesn’t get that I went from only self-submitting for auditions to gaining strength in alliance and access to more roles when I started freelancing with agents and a manager. Come on! If you had told the 2008 Erica that I was going to go on auditions and have any agents to call, I would have looked up from my lesson planning and told you to stop smoking crack. And maybe would have punched you in the face.
The point is that I realized that I don’t need to be a “starving artist” type. I can still do what I want to do and have money left over to help out my mom, right? It doesn’t HAVE to be menial survival jobs. It might just take some time to figure it out. Ballerism doesn’t happen overnight. (Haha) And I need to stop having such a guilt complex. Even when I was working a full-time job, I didn’t feel it was enough. So I might as well be happy. And who’s to say that I won’t find something else to make me more happy? But in the meantime, I don’t want to quit just because this pressure from my Tiger Mom. So I won’t.
Plus, what would I do with my 500 new actor business cards?
PS. I think it’s in my best interest to tell my mom that I would never hang up on her and blame T-Mobile for dropping the call.