Puppet Strings

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.


A year ago, my mother casually said that if I had a brother, I would receive nothing from her. Distraught, I had asked her to clarify. However, she coldly maintained that she always believed that sons are superior to daughters. Every time I make my biannual journey to China, I sense the tug of the same strings that compelled my mother to say those harsh words.

Despite my frequent travels to Chongqing, I always feel like a stranger in the crowded, ever-expanding city. Sitting three seats away from the head of the dinner table, I see these puppet strings of filial piety and patriarchy manipulating my family members. My grandmother’s words are drowned in the sea of my grandfather’s aggressive proclamations, while my opinions are overshadowed by authority. The stuffed doll I may have been as a young child has gradually been flattened, now resembling the picture-perfect image of a soft-spoken, quiet, and “respectful” daughter. Whenever I return to my home, Taiwan, I realize that my classmates are not bound to the same strings that consumed me in Chongqing. I love talking to people and understanding their perspectives; however, because I am not as brazen and outspoken as my extroverted peers, I feel inferior. I privately loathe my...

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