Silence and Acceptance

If you have spent any considerable amount of time around Asians, you’ll know that silence is usually something that’s pretty natural. I mean sure, when they get together they can be loud, talkative, and just as friendly as anyone, but if there are prolonged periods of time when no one it talking it just as natural as when they were talking.  So why make an article about it, sounds pretty normal right? Well for me that silence was something I rarely ever enjoyed and when I did have the pleasure of its presence it usually meant something entirely different.

When I was growing up people were always friendly, talkative, and sometimes you could rarely get a word in edge wise. At home there was rarely a time when someone was not talking about something, complaining about issues, or meddling in someone else’s affairs…lol yea it was true. But the only time there was ever a prolonged period of silence was when someone was in trouble. You know when you were a kid and you did something your parents were not happy with, and maybe you received some kind of reprimand for it… right? Well, when I did something like that I got the silent treatment. I can remember the look on my moms face as she would slowly turn and look away with a disapproving shake of her head, and as a kid that was kind of scary…lol…So for me, silence = you were in trouble!

When I first was introduced to the Asian family environment, not very many family members would talk to me. Perhaps it was the lack of communication skills, language, or the fact that they just didn’t know what to say to an outsider. So when I first encountered this lack of verbal communication I could not help feeling like something was terribly wrong. Did they not like me, was I in trouble? These kinds of thoughts ran through my mind because that’s what my experience had taught me.

So far many years, basically until I was married, many family members just never really talked to me, and it made me feel really uneasy at gathering and holidays.  Over time this feeling faded away because I understood that their silence was really an acceptance. If they had an issue I am sure they would have said something to someone, which I would eventually have heard about because you know nothing stays a secret in the family..lol. So this idea of silence being a way of saying “everything is fine” was just one more thing I leaned about being part of an Asian family.

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6 Responses to Silence and Acceptance

  1. katelovekj says:

    That really interesting, because I haven’t actually experienced what you’ve experienced. Whenever my fiancee’s family calls from Korea, I’ll get on the phone with them and talk like they knew English perfectly well, when really they don’t know any at all, then hand the phone back over to my fiancee and ask him to translate. But I have never been to a family holiday gathering ether nor spoken to anyone other than his mom, dad, and sister, because they all live in Korea and I haven’t been yet. Although I know the feeling of feeling like “the outsider”, although under the terms that I felt it, it was more like they wanted me to feel it. I had went with my fiancee, who at the time was just my boyfriend, to his friend’s apartment, who was a Korean girl, who had other Korean girls over for dinner. All of these Korean girls can speak and understand English well and the Korean girl that lived in the Apt. had invited me over for dinner. Him and I went and it turned out to be the most awkward experience ever for a few reasons and I ended up leaving pretty mad. Basically in a quick summation, the entire dinner the girls only spoke Korean (though they were perfectly capable of speaking English), I had no clue what any of them were saying, I basically sat and ate my food in silence, with occasionally one of them asking me something every 10 mins or so. I tried a few times to say something, which is hard when you have no idea what the topic of conversation is. I had to ask for them to translate sometimes, which made me mad, because in my head, they were being extremely rude to me. I felt like they knew I didn’t know Korean, they knew they knew English, they had invited me over, then completely shun me from participation in conversation and the fact that I had to even ask for translations made me mad, considering they could speak English perfectly well. The only time they had tried to get me to participate was at the very end of the dinner, when they asked me to go paint their nails with them……which turned me off a lot, because I have never had friends that wanted to gather in a group and paint nails and I thought it was very childish considering everyone of these Korean girls were not girls actually, but in their 30’s. I was the youngest at 22. I actually ended up leaving abruptly, partly because I was mad and partly because the woman’s food at given me a bad stomach ache from being so incredibly spicy, which normally isn’t an issue but I had actually just gotten diagnosed with gastritis the day before.

    So my experience of feeling like an “outsider” is different, but I know what it feels like to be reminded that you aren’t and never will be “one of them”…..However, your fiancee’s family did more from acceptance, the Korean women I was around did it more to be hostile and I think to make a “point” that they could talk to my boyfriend in a way I couldn’t…but ether way you never will really like feeling that..

    Oh and afterwards, my boyfriend apologized a lot and concidentally, I never went back over to that woman’s house and never became friends with her, which is her loss, because I’m a great friend. However, in an ironic change in life, she is now dating my brother (who is 10 years younger than her) and wants to be accepted into my family…which I have not made easier for her because everytime she comes around, I remember exactly how she made me felt….

    • AMWF Love says:

      Well to be honest with you I stay away from most Asian women, because that’s what I have seen to happen. That’s such a bad experience 😦 . Actually one of the reasons my hubby did not want to be with Asian women was because they act just like that.Feeling like an “outsider” is what I hope to try and change, because in the end we are all people. We are really all the same.
      -Laura

      • katelovekj says:

        That’s why I like your blog so much, but unfortunately, there are alot of asians who will just never accept someone who isn’t asian and more importantly the same “kind” of asian as they are (a lot of Koreans are like that). Yeah after that experience, along with a few others, I’ve pretty much shunned the thought of being friends with the Korean women here and I hate that, because to me there really is no point in being like that to someone just because they aren’t like you. I actually saw that same Korean woman about a month ago, when my fiancee and I were leaving the grocery store to our car and she was walking into the store. We hadn’t talked to her in a long time because I don’t like her because of how she has treated me, and I saw her, she was staring at us (not friendly like) and I just ignored her and kept walking, my fiancee didn’t even notice she was there at all. We were about to our car, and the woman started screaming my fiancee’s name out in Korean across the parking lot. She screamed it like 6 times, making a scene, until my fiancee looked up confused and saw her, she started waving, he gave a slight wave back, and was like “wtf?” The situation made me so upset, because she knows I don’t like her, and the only reason I could figure that she did that was to try and cause problems between KJ and I and also because I think she was pissed that we ignored her. Keep in mind, this lady is 30 years old. At 23, I would never behave so tacky and classless. But she had pushed me to my pissed off edge, and unlike the passive aggressiveness that I see in a lot of asian women, I am not passive aggressive, I’m blunt. So that night, being so upset, I sent her a note on FB and all I said was, “KJ and I do not want you to talk to us ever and I mean ever, and if you see us pretend you didn’t and we’ll return the favor. The way you acted was classless and tacky and at your age, you should not act like that. I hope you have enough class to respect our request.” This is a 23 year old telling a 30 year old. She wrote back and said she won’t talk to us anymore, and that was that.

        I hate that my experiences with Korean women have been so bad, because I know they aren’t all like that, KJ’s sister and mom are so sweet. And I also try to keep in mind that there are crappy Korean women, but there are crappy every color woman. I just think Korean women tend to be very arrogant and snobbish and not just to non-koreans, but to each other too, they gossip so much. I actually ended up becoming very defensive around asian women, because whenever KJ and I experience “prejudice” or get nasty looks or the “cold” treatment it’s ether from an asian woman or a white man. White guys give KJ a lot of mean looks too. And now, I’ve just gotten to the point where I just say “screw ’em, they don’t know us, and if they did, they’d know we really love each other and we are good people and if they want to spend their life hating people who don’t conform to what they think is right, then that’s their problem, not me and KJ’s”

        And my fiancee is like your husband, he told me he hates the way Korean women act, that they tend to only care about how much money a man has, what he can buy them, and that they gossip a lot and try to be “cute” but in a manipulative way. Plus he thinks white girls are prettier, with prettier eyes.

        Oh and thanks, it feels good to talk to someone else who knows what I’m talking about 🙂 <3.

    • AMWF Love says:

      Hi Kate, thanks for commenting.

      What you have experienced being around a group of Koreans is really no different from the majority of Asians. Yes we use our native tongue to speak about some particular conversations. From personal experience, it kind of makes more sense than using English. Some of the humour and phrases only really make sense in the native Asian language. Beyond that the conversations are usually frivolous. It’s just the petty: hair, makeup, Asian pop celebrities, and gossip. The tough part is that Asian social groups usually revolve around one pseudo leader, the largest extrovert that glues the group together. A lot of the traits will reflect to the circle of friends, and thus the kindness of the group is sort of lead by example.

      You have to understand that most social events in Asian groups is far from a deep satsifying emotional or intellectual conversation with one another. In fact I find it almost completely shallow small talk. That’s really how it is. Depending on how Traditional the family is, a woman really is supposed to raise the children. So, they really don’t have much else aside from the petty and cute things. It’s kind of sad, but it does happen. I’m sorry to hear your prior bad experiences, but I can assure you that not every Asian is like that. There’s still good people out there – but you will have to filter out a lot of people.

      Brian

  2. sezratd says:

    laura-

    Don’t worry about getting “silent treatment”, if you knew my family, you would not be surprised: our family dinner was ALWAYS quite. My parents almost said nothing and it had been like that since i was a kid. I always wondered why it was always quite but I guess it’s the norm. So, I think it’spretty normal in most Asian families for dinners to be quiet, except when teenagers were around then it gets loud.

    katelovekj-

    Koreans are very proud people. even in colleges they tend to make their own Korean-only group, other Asian/non-asians need not apply. So there you go.

    -sezratd

    • sezratd says:

      I’m not Korean but I have tons of Korean friends and acquiantances.
      although some Koreans like your husband do make connections with people other than Koreans

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