top of page

#156: “I wish I knew how this will turn out...”

Updated: Mar 24

I wish I knew how this will turn out said the rabbit. The oxherd boy pattered her gently. Maybe it's not about knowing how it will turn out he said. Maybe what you really want to know is that you'll be OK no matter what happens. Oxherd Boy inspiring art chinese art japanese art inspirational comic

As my son navigates a broader and broader world, I'm also turning my perspective inwards and wondering how I subconsciously or consciously manage similar situations that he is going through. One recurring theme since he started grade one is fear of rejection, or desire for approval.

The Taiwanese public school system seems to be quite diverse in that each teacher has a lot of say in how material is taught and what kind of learning environment to foster. My son's teacher, though not entirely of an older guard, does drill her students with memorization exercises in Mandarin characters. Weekly dictation quizzes are useful to help strengthen recall, but for every character a student messes up, they are expected to rewrite the entire phrase of sometimes three or four additional characters two more times. In my opinion, it illustrates how learning can so easily be twisted such that a young student sees it as punishment. And my son has already made that connection: getting something wrong means you're going to be punished. And he's learned to fear doing something "wrong," especially when defined by somebody else. He's worried that getting a low score on his quiz will make his teacher not like him anymore, or means that he's a bad student.

While I can sit here and be appalled at this kind of teaching method, I've found that it's only one example of what makes society run the way it does. This fear hasn't really gone away as I've aged. In my life, it's only gotten more nuanced, hidden amid my relationships in those unspoken social contracts and expectations of each other. For others, it is completely out in the open, with members of society having their mistakes and failings plastered all over the media and targeted for open ridicule or physical hostility. It's human to find comfort in acceptance and approval. It's human to be afraid that anything we do, could be turned into punishment and pain. So how do I embody what I hope to show my son, which is to live without that fear?

Want to read more?

Subscribe to to keep reading this exclusive post.

Subscribe Now
1,891 views5 comments

Sign up for a new comic every week.

bottom of page