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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chinese American Personality

I'm always intrigued by the topic of personality and personality development, especially when it's in the context of one's culture and beliefs. This article helped me understand myself a little bit more and reflect on who I am as a person.
Excerpted from: "Chinese American Personality and Mental Health"
1. Traditionalist."There is an attempt to be a "good" son or daughter.  Primary allegiance is to the family into which he was born...Self worth and esteem are defined by his ability to succeed in terms of high educational achievement, occupational status, etc. With success he feels respectable in American society; he has brought honor to the family name and has accomplished this all as a minority member."

2. Marginal Man. "The Marginal Man attempts to assimilate and acculturate into the majority society.  Existing between the margins of two cultures, he suffers from an identity crisis.  In attempts to resolve this conflict, the person may reject traditional Chinese ways by becoming over-Westernized."

3. Asian American. "Unlike the Traditionalist and the Marginal Man who have found existing models, the Asian American tries to formulate a new identity by integrating his past experiences with his present conditions... He is more sensitive to the forces in society which have shaped his identity and have too often been left unchallenged.  Problems such as poverty, unemployment, individual and institutional racism, and juvenile delinquency are of primary concern to him.  More than anything, society is to blame for his present dilemma and must be changed."

My own personal background, for the most part, puts me in the marginal (wo)man group, since I do experience that culture clash and identity crisis. However, unlike the people in this group, I embrace the traditional Chinese ways and attempts to incorporate it into my life. Thus, I declare this the dual culture phenomenon. I believe that in this case, it's not that one particular culture is stronger than the other, or that I secretly hate my other half, but the fact that I welcome both values into my life (see new chart below). 
I think this is the best explanation for why I struggle to be the "perfect" daughter, why I have an underlying desire to attain high educations and top paying careers as well as my gravitation toward tradition and family. At the same time, it will explain my desire to be independent, carefree and a free thinker.

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