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Meet Rachel Chang
Shanghai, China

When I was in the 7th grade, both of my parents moved to Taiwan and left my brother and I in Shanghai. At the time, I didn’t think it was abnormal that my parents didn’t come home every night. This was until I went over to some friend’s house and realized it was normal for them to have dinner with their parents every night. I think, because my house was always quite empty, it made me resent my parents and the idea of home. But I understood it wasn’t because they didn’t care for me or love me, it was just that there were things other that had higher priority. 

My parents grew up under traditional Asian households, so it made sense that they believed working hard and paving the way for their children’s success financially was what love meant. Their parents never physically or verbally told them they loved them, so I understand why they couldn’t give that to me either. When my brother graduated and I was truly on my own, I felt like I had to quickly become an adult. Many people would tell me that it is amazing that I get the whole house to myself all the time. But I always thought, can you truly imagine coming home at three in the morning and know that nobody is waiting up for you? And that nobody knows where you’ve been or what you’ve done. It definitely was difficult to feel that I was on my own and go day to day without having a strong home base.

I don’t blame my parents. It took me a long time to come to terms with it, but moving to college really helped me open up a conversation with my parents. I’ve confronted my parents about never really being there for me. It’s interesting because I learned that my parents are just growing adults, trying to figure shit figured out like all of us. I remember my mom being like ‘Yeah, we were just so busy, we forgot… We just forgot.’ From that point on, it was like ‘okay, I need to forgive myself, my parents, and just move on.’ I realized there was no way my parents could have changed what had happened and “made things better.” It took some time to come to terms with it and it still has an effect on me from time to time. Obviously things have shifted now that I am older and I’ve learned how hard it was for my parents to leave me and my brother.

My relationship with my parents has developed a lot further, and we have a better understanding and love for each other. It’s more than just the unsaid traditional Asian family sort of way, but in a real, in-depth friendship kind of way. And it’s good now; it feels good.