Cultural Differences and its Perks

I am Asian, Chinese to be specific. Dan is half Latino and half Quebecois. We have been raised on different sides of the world hence naturally there should be some cultural differences. Whenever friends post me the question, ‘Do you and Dan face any cultural differences?’ my reply has pretty much been consistent, ‘Mmm… I don’t think so?’

Cultural difference has been delivered across to me as something negative. Since there has been no major conflict between Dan and I with regards to culture, I assumed there was none. However, cultural differences do not necessarily signal ‘red flag’. The culture cultivated in a person may be a great learning for another.  I have had my fair share of ‘eye openers’ through my ever intriguing partner.

Scenario #1:

Dan and I started salsa classes together about a month and a half ago. Blessed with Latin blood, Dan picked up salsa 8 years back, dancing on a social basis. As for me, I was introduced to salsa less than a year ago. I clearly remembered when we were at the counter completing our registration, I was all excited and declared to him that my goal is to do one formal salsa performance. He gave me a quizzical look and said that I would have to do that on my own because the performance did not appeal to him at all.

Why do we always have to do something with a goal in mind? A goal as in certain targets we want to achieve on a competitive level more than just for self development. Why can’t we just do something because we enjoy doing them? So what if we are not internationally recognized for it? Does it mean we are not good at what we do? Being brought up in a society which thrives on drive and peer pressure, I have been hard on myself all these years. Agreed upon that because of such pressure, I excel in many things I consciously choose to take on. However, a lot of times, I do get disillusioned and disappointed too because I feel that I failed to achieve certain milestones. That is not healthy at all, not for the heart for sure! Taking on a challenge should be a personal choice. It should not be threatened by other people’s perspective but to just enjoy the process of learning something new. Hence, I have dropped the idea of I MUST be able to perform. Que sera sera.

Scenario No. #2:

Holidays.

Me, “I want to go Cuba since everybody has been talking about it. I still want to have the chance to explore Europe. I want to check out other parts of Canada. I really want to visit the States too.’

Dan, “I want to visit my friend in France and I really want to surf in Bali.”

Interestingly, there are so many things I want to do yet for Dan it is really simple. At this current moment, he is clear about what he wants. It led me wondering what do people mean when they have this never ending list of goals of wanting to achieve EVERYTHING. Is it because they really know what they want or they think they know what they want? This probably leads back to being competitive and/ or together with a ‘kiasu’ mentality. We want things done now! There is no time to be wasted. We need to work hard, earn lots of money and then retire. Sounds familiar? Time to take a pause and review what actually is a priority.

Scenario No. #3:

(Me venting on my current unknown status)

Me, “Why aren’t you worried?”

Dan, “Worried about?”

Me, “My application status. Like nothing is confirm as yet. What if I am unable to extend my visa? What if I do not get my immigration papers on time? What if I have to go back to Singapore?”

Dan, “Then I’ll quit my job and go back with you.”

Me, “What??? But how are we going to survive if both of us are not working?” (exasperated)

Dan, “Maybe I’ll be able to find something in Singapore. I think the important part here is to be able to be together.”

I was left speechless.

My worried side tends to get the better of me. Worried about instability, worried about money, worried about job, worried about… Seems like a never ending possibilities of worries.  I was taught to be responsible for my life, to think ahead of time, to have a concrete plan in mind, to set myself a stable platform i.e. good job, get married, buy a house, have children etc. Ironically, many things are not predictable. In a safe environment, we can minimise the risk. However, that also highly means leading a dull and monotonous life. I learned to let go and chill. I learn to flow with life. I will worry over things which I can make a difference in and leave the rest to unfold on their own.

Signing off with love,

Esther

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