Hello everyone, welcome to the first guest post that I will be having on my blog for #ShatteringStigmas! Today #ontheblog I will be having the wonderful Alexa from The Words of the Page. I really hope you guys enjoy her story, I think she has such a great message to share so read away my loves.
I am a Korean American.
I can never be considered a native Korean, but I can never also be considered a full American. However, I have this amazing thing that biracial and bi..culture (?) people have and it’s a dual perspective. If there’s anything I learned about Koreans growing up it is that we can be incredibly prideful and stubborn. I’ve met more people in my family and of my culture that are the most unwilling to ask for help. We, for some reason, are hell bent on the idea of getting things done on our own and we’d rather not ask for help. Why? I can’t really speak for everyone, but for me personally I do it because I don’t want to bother anyone. Probably the worst thing for me is to become a burden.
Sometimes, though, it’s good to ask for help.
Something I’ve learned from being an American, and more specifically Southern Californian, is that asking for help is… okay. It’s not a burden. It’s something that you should be able to lean on. Where I’ve met more Koreans that are hell bent on never asking for help, I’ve met more Americans who are more than happy to ask for help–who even rely on it. It’s a strange dichotomy that I’ve grown into. I’m constantly jumping back and forth between being a do it yourself kind of gal and also (hesitantly) asking for help when it’s needed.
The thing with Koreans is that we don’t really talk about our problems. Sure we talk about work and school and what have you, but hardly do we ever talk about what’s going up there mentally and emotionally. Like I said, prideful.
This became a huge problem when I was a sophomore in high school. Four years prior my dad had died of a brain tumor. I was thirteen. My sister was nine. Obviously this is a pretty terrible tragedy to come to terms with. At the time I had shut down any kind of room for grief with a sense of obligation and responsibility. With my dad gone, I was suddenly the second in command in my family and with my mom in a less than stable mental state I kind of had to be the stable one. Or.. “stable” one. I instantly became more pragmatic and logical. I moved schools and moved cities. There were a lot of changes in my life, honestly it’s kind of a blur.
When I finally kind of “settled down” my sophomore year, everything kind of hit me at once. I was suddenly hit with grief, loneliness, and anger. I’m pretty sure I fell into a kind of depression. I didn’t spend a lot of time out and I hardly had any good friend connections. The biggest problem for me was that I didn’t talk to anyone about it. At the time I posted on Tumblr a lot and I posted my darker thoughts there, but it was more of yelling into the void than it was really talking to anyone. I pulled myself out of that funk, thankfully–but it’s still something that effects me. I’m still really hesitant on asking for help with… really anything and I’m still so stubborn that I’d rather work out the problem myself than burden someone else with it–but from my American perspective, I understand that it’s important to talk to someone about that stuff. It’s important to let it out. It’s unhealthy to bottle it up and let it stew until the pressure is too much and you just explode.
I’m not just talking about mental health either. It might be something small like a test you’re worried about or something that upset you that day (maybe your coffee spilled on your new shirt that was super cute). Just let it out and let the feeling pass through you.
South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and while I know it’s a much more complex problem with many components I think a lot of it can be helped if they recognized and understood how important it was to talk about their emotions and mental health. I believe a lot of the problem derives from our unwillingness to do so.
If you have something that’s been bugging you in your mind, talk to someone. If they make you feel like a burden, talk to someone else. Talk to someone who will listen and, when needed, will comfort you. Because we humans are social beings. We need to talk to people and we need to have interactions, the good and the bad. It might scare you (it still scares me), but it’s about overcoming that fear to get the relief that so many of us need.
A huge thank you to Alexa for sharing her story. Do you guys have any similar stories to share? Send some love to Alexa, maybe? Any comments would be much appreciated!