November 29, 2014 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield, Thoughts and Feelings Working in Alberta

Leaving family behind to escape control, as a ‘Chinese-Canadian’

Someone on a popular university Facebook Page wrote a long note about the burdens of growing up in Canada as a Chinese youngster, and I could not help but relate by sharing my personal experience:

Now your story reminds me a bit of mine… That’s how I felt and was raised too. To forever serve the wishes of the family and to be the perfect prodigy in their eyes- so much that I was expected to give them money when I really didn’t have any of my own. I graduated early from high school and was through 3 1/2 years of university by the time I was 19. I did go see girls sometimes, but dating was forbidden in their eyes altogether, and they were the old school type that would be against dating outside your race. I was raised to rise above everyone else, feed the family, be what they ideally wanted- to make the family look the best in everyone else’s eyes- at any cost- friends, dating, fun, happiness- that was all meaningless to them. We didn’t even get vacations of trips, or to invite friends over. Dating was one topic we could never comfortably discuss- every girl I’ve met and seen to the time of writing this my family never knew about, and it did seem odd to some of my past dates. So much that I was grind-ed (Macbook keeps changing my word here…) into my head that the easiest way to destroy my future was to find myself a girl. It feels very strange to this day; the last time I was seeing someone, when we were in bed the feeling of lips was at once both sinful and full of innocence and joy.

Aside from dating there were very simple things in life that a regular Canadian got to enjoy that I did not because of them, such as trying snowboarding, road trips, traveling, having a car and getting to work on it, etc. I worked a part-time job, but they believed they had control of all my money even if I worked for it. Sometimes I came home to money in my wallet missing, and they would take away gifts from my siblings and I regularly- gifts that others gave to us out of good heart, and they would be re-wrapped and redistributed as gifts to others in case they needed to give at special occasions. In fact I had to hide my car and cameras from them. Aside from education being above all, financial implications were the motivations for the above. Money was above everything to them in this aspect; your happiness mattered little.

Since I was a child, I was always told to live for the common Chinese dream of driving a Mercedes down the corporate city, wearing a suit and tie after a long day at the office with a prestigious university degree nailed to the wall, and then the family would brag to the other Chinese ones about their ‘successful’ child. A pinnacle of Chinese prestige.

Aside from being miserable from that, the economic prospects in BC were questionable. Poor paying jobs, and university degrees didn’t necessarily open a road to a good job. I hated being broke so much, and I felt that I’d be broke forever. So overall I had little to be happy about.

But one day, because of a myriad of reasons- from financial, academic and to emotional, I left them and the province on my own and never returned. Over almost 2 decades of pressure and living a life that was largely dictated by them, combined with financial strain and academicia not working out as I intended, I eventually broke. I have not seen my family for almost 2 years now.
I work up to 24 hours a day in down to -40C weather where I know nobody, and where every girl I’ve met has left me for another dude (no I do not work on an oil rig).

Throughout my travels I have met many people who lectured me about how ‘parents care and are always knowing the best’. Whether that’s true you tell me.

It does suck though, as I don’t know anyone here and I have no social life, and while there are stretches I’ll have a couple thousand dollars to enjoy, those moments can disappear very quickly and I’m starting over. For instance, right now I’m sitting on my previous paycheque waiting for my next one this Monday. I cannot do anything in fear my work will be gone (as my work is high pay with high inconsistency, and I require high income versus my expenses to get ahead) and require the money to move onto the next place. I can’t go eat as I please. I can’t see my friends. I can’t go buy a new camera or toy to explore. If I run out of money, I lose what I have gained so far (in terms of assets) and face bankruptcy unless I beg my family for mercy, which would put me right again into their hands in a worse spot than before.

Often I’m questioned why I’m willing to put up with all that bullshit. The simple answer to that is I get to be my own person.

Interesting spillover: as of the time of writing this, have earned $116,013 in wages since June 2013, when I came to Alberta. I did not work full-time in January, June, July, and August 2014.