Ally Chiu Professor James Polchin
GLS Writing II 11 March 2010
This essay was a struggle for me, as I imagine it was for many people. As an adolescent in college, I feel that I am still attempting to discover myself. Although I do hold beliefs and convictions, I don’t believe they have been challenged enough because they haven’t really been exposed to the world yet. This, I believe, has made it difficult to articulate the reasons why I believe in certain things, and to further convince others that they should believe the same. If I don’t have a thorough understanding of something, how can I persuade you that it’s right and infallible? It’s just not convincing.
The lack of motivation for this assignment has made the writing process extremely tedious and painful. I found myself procrastinating for endless hours to avoid working on the draft, and after a certain point, each sentence had to be squeezed out with enormous difficulty. This may have affected the flow and readability of the essay. I find that it’s easier to formulate a cohesive and focused argument if more of it has been composed in one sitting. During the revision process, I tried to improve the flow and structure of the piece.
I chose to write this letter to my father. This presented a different challenge for me because it’s difficult for a child to criticize her parents, especially since I admire my father so much. I believe I owe much of my way of thinking to him. I feel like he’s opened up my mind about the world and encouraged an attitude that makes it possible for me to be understanding and accepting toward others. Who can fault a man like that? It feels audacious and pretentious of me to find fault with someone to whom I owe my life. And as my father’s daughter, I believe that this has made me blind to his faults for a very long time. Now that I’ve grown up a bit more and moved away from home, I can adopt a more impartial attitude in regarding my parents and their idiosyncrasies, though never entirely so. Human nature ordains that it is infinitely easier to point out the faults of others than to identify these faults within ourselves. This is why people can be unconsciously guilty of hypocrisy, and why they can belittle other individuals, races, cultures, or nationalities of something while they are just as liable to the same.
The nature of my father’s criticisms of me was not academic. My parents did not put any pressure on me to do well in school. For the most part, my father would analyze shortcomings in my personality and urge me to correct them. Regarding this aspect, it’s difficult to determine how effective his methods were. I don’t think I’m a reliable judge to gauge this sort of improvement, but I don’t think it was the best method to approach the problem.
It’s a fine line to tread between directed and open. Part of the difficulty of this assignment is that it must develop some sort of significance outside of the events I describe that transpired between me and my father. My father is supposed to be representative of some larger audience, some abstract group of people who I’m actually addressing, even while my father’s name is the one printed at the top of the page. In order to achieve this, I must be able to differentiate which qualities are unique to my father, and the characteristics that my father and this larger group of people share. These shared characteristics are the ones that truly need to be questioned and refuted. However, my father is a man who has been shaped by his own past and experiences. He’s been molded by the places he’s lived in and by the culture that he’s been immersed in. Part of my father’s attitude that I critique in my essay has some sort of cultural basis or foundation, but I believe it would be presumptuous to assume that it is a phenomenon unique only to the Chinese or merely to Confucian cultures. I am not simply issuing a dispute against all oppressive Asian parents, but rather refuting the idea that learning and education necessarily has to be attached to negative feedback or crippling pressure to reap profit. I wanted this essay to be less of a critique on my father’s parenting skills (because I don’t believe my siblings and I grew up to be terrible people) and more of a query about the ideas that governed his parenting. I had to learn to separate my personal narration to a specific individual, my father, to be able to open up my argument to a universal level.