Fresh off of my “The Roles that We Take” posts, I’ve come to realize that for the majority of my life up to this point I’ve been a little bit like the character Van Wilder from the movie Van Wilder.
Basic premise: Van Wilder is a 27 year old college “student” who purposefully doesn’t complete the last few required classes in order to graduate and stays in college – all the meanwhile flying under the radar of the schools’ administrators and becomes the de facto “party planner” for the students at the college. His reputation as such earns him underground celebrity status and a vast network of connections among the students.
Once you complete the movie you learn that one of the main reasons why Van Wilder stays in school is because he doesn’t want to be his father – a mainly absentee one who focuses on his career as a multi-millionaire rather than his child (Van Wilder). Thus to delay (or get rid of) any potential of him repeating his father’s mistakes, Van Wilder simply stays in school.
Now back to me; like Van Wilder, I want to NOT repeat the mistakes of my family. There are lots of reasons – but I’ll simply state my motivation.
When I was around 10 years old, I was in a terrible family situation – with both parents having been at odds with each other for over the past few years. I decided that the best way to get their attention was to intentionally not be successfully at life. This sis because of the cultural attachment to the first born son being held as the “hopes and dreams” for the family (as with most Asian families).
In my naive 10 year old self, I felt that the best way to put the situation in their eyes was to intentionally fail at my studies.
Yes you heard me right. At the 5th grade, I intentionally become a bad student so that I can draw their attention to their situation. In that 10 year old mind, I saw this as the only way out – one with consequences that I foresaw lasting for at least a few years. What I didn’t anticipate was that their attitude would work it’s way into all the other areas of my life.
I also didn’t anticipate that this mentality would last for 20 years.
Until just a month ago
Like Van Wilder, I had stayed in a mode of thinking that had me trapped in a cycle of behavior that was the cause of trying to avoid a problem in the family – but the problem came anyway!
At least Van Wilder had tons and tons of girls! And at least now, I know what I need to change.