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Mary Sue and Amy Chua

ksol1460^Jay's response to my Marai post and the article he linked about the controversy over Mary Sue really got me thinking. Why am I even working against the Mary Sue stereotype? I remember in the 80's when strong female heroines were all the rage. I'm too young to remember Night of the Hunter but I grew up with Alanna the Lioness and J. H. Brennan's Shiva and Lisa from The Girl Who Owned a City.

I think what I was reaching for in my telling of Marai's story is the same thing I'm usually reaching for - psychological realism in high fantasy. I want the complexity of character you find in a good murder mystery, combined with a fantasy setting. Here, by focusing on the stereotypes and trying to answer possible critics before they open their mouths, I'm actually prejudicing readers to uphold the stereotypes themselves and to think in black and white.

Marai doesn't have a lot of the traits of a classic Mary Sue. She's in her thirties, not a teenager. She's not a self-insert - shashigai and I take turns writing for her, but she's part of nobody's multiple system. But she has rsakk eyes and a red cast to her hair, and she was classically beautiful when she was younger, so in a pre-emptive attack against potential critics, instead of changing her surface level traits, I slashed at some of her more complex values. Strong on the surface but actually bad, deeply flawed. It was... biased journalism.

I never realized that "Mary Sue" is often just a way of putting people down, not to point out a flaw in their writing, but to tear down an author who has dared make public a wish-fulfilment fantasy. I won't be perpetuating that stereotype again. I know that amateur writing is cutthroat, but it really looks like the Mary Sue stereotype is intimately entwined with the nature of highly social people, especially women, to attack by tearing at each other's confidence.

The further I got through the article, though, the more disturbing it got, on a level that was hard to identify. Bringing together rant posts from LJ and various other fanfiction sites, it hold up examples of young writers who gave up and stopped producing stories, and then blames the Mary Sue bullying. For example:

Before anyone says: "Oh, they/you should have just sucked it up and grown a thicker skin! Learn to to accept criticism!

Think.

You are blaming the victims of bullying for their behavior.

That is Not. Okay. Ever.


Actually, I believe that it is.

One, rather than launch some self-righteous campaign to abolish the term, I have to be ready to be called a Suethor and not compromise my writing by pre-empting it. Two, if it happens, I need to ask Pk whether they're correcting a mistake in my writing or just being manipulative. Three, I have to keep writing about what I care about.

That was when I stumbled on this article: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior by Amy Chua. This, not Mary Sue, is the real face of perfection. What it looks like and how you create it. It caused a huge controversy when Amy Chua published it earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal.

It's scary. I don't believe in trigger warnings, but for children who were raised in a certain way, it can be disturbing. I'm having more trouble writing about this part.

I can say it is something about differences in society. It is the opposite to the things that were disturbing about the Mary Sue article. This woman has been condemned for her parenting techniques, but look at the mentality she uses to justify them:

Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.

Amongst all the praise for rote learning, which I know trains a child out of creativity - my main competition in the first two years of high school was a Chinese girl who was likely raised using techniques similar to the ones Ms. Chua describes. I was constantly frustrated by scoring one percentage point less than her, and she was constantly jealous of my creativity - I find this. The presumption of strength.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn't get them, the Chinese parent assumes it's because the child didn't work hard enough. That's why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

Ms. Chua forces her seven-year-old daughter through a repression which brings up all the wrong reactions in me, but afterwards she celebrates the victory with her. There is something in that which calls out to me in a way these coddling words about bullying never will.

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
yonjuunana
Apr. 5th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
This is all really interesting and a lot to think about. I got the same reaction with being very disturbed at a lot of the stuff in the Chinese parenting article, but at the same time liking some of the parts about strength.

I've been trying for a long time to come up with a coherent overall system for dealing with encouraging personal strength and responsibility but also not shaming or harming people who are genuinely struggling and needing support. It seems like it should be simple enough, but it more often seems like a huge minefield where there can be massive disagreement and debate over what is good for things as simple as whether or not to use trigger warnings, and huge gaps in culture between various internet communities I've seen in which what is considered strong/healthy in one is considered horribly abusive/invalidating in another, or how the culture in some fluffy "safe" survivor communities can be very harmful and not safe to people with particular styles. The article seemed a bit like examples of these clashes taken to the extreme.

Maybe some of it is about personal style. Maybe a lot is finding the right balance between pushing for strength and healing/nurturing (Which seems to often be easier said than done, and go too far in either direction or choose one in the wrong situation and it can cause harm). Or about celebrating and encouraging victory and strength in things the child is passionate about instead of rote things or repressing the child's will and creativity in favor of the parent's ideas of what they should care about.
pyraxis
Apr. 6th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
Or about celebrating and encouraging victory and strength in things the child is passionate about instead of rote things or repressing the child's will and creativity in favor of the parent's ideas of what they should care about.

Yeah I think that's the key. Working with the child to succeed in their things, rather than forcing on them the things that you want them to be good at.

I think the coherent overall system for strength vs nurturing has to account for people one at a time.
yonjuunana
Apr. 5th, 2011 05:17 am (UTC)
One, rather than launch some self-righteous campaign to abolish the term, I have to be ready to be called a Suethor and not compromise my writing by pre-empting it. Two, if it happens, I need to ask Pk whether they're correcting a mistake in my writing or just being manipulative. Three, I have to keep writing about what I care about.

Also, I think all this is great. :)
tigerweave
Apr. 5th, 2011 01:29 pm (UTC)
There are a LOT of things in writing - just about anything, that can be used to shoot another author down. I think that is more important to understand than Mary Sue and the role she plays in writing, or not, as the case may be. You ever seen Greece? Oliver Netron Bomb uh I mean Newton John's character was a Mary Sue if ever there was one, but look at what Greece has brought to the world, and that character. Mary Sues can be as powerful in the negative reactions or reactions of jealousy or feelings of inadequacy as any other character.

I would think as an author, the important thing to understand is that you are writing one, or not. Not to be doing it unconsciously, but to be doing it - whatever you are doing! because that is creating the piece of writing YOU are wanting to write.
ie it is about skill level. if you are writing a Mary Sue coz you are fiddling round in the dark and have no idea that you are creating a shallow character that your audience can't stand, that is different to writing Ms Goody Two Shoes with beauty pageant looks that your audience can't stand ***because you as the author find that is what is needed to tell your story***


I have read that article on the chinese mother thing. And quite frankly she is as ridiculously narrow-minded about her ways as the American people who have gotten so hot under the collar about it.

Firstly in both her writing and attitude, and the Americans whose responses I have read, there is the grand sweeping unquestioned presumption that achieving in such a way is the point to life and the way of succeeding. Chinese kids really ARE going to "beat" American kids at their times tables, and the adult equivalent, at the rate they are going. But what is happening in Australia at the very least is that people of a younger generation are not working for money or profit or prestige, or consumerism, but more internal values like job satisfaction, helping others, making a difference for good in the world, not turning a profit.

These old fuddy-duddies are going on about a way of life in a world that is not sustainable and that fucks the enviroment and people's minds up. So what if they "succeed"? They lose in the long run. And the younger people in Australia at least, know it. (Eddy worked for a place where they utilised studies about this sort of thing, it was soooo interesting)

As for the bullying and ridicule for them to not succeed at memorising their times tables but lavish praise if they do - that is another thing this woman is ignorant about but claiming victory of her own methods when really it is basic child psychology.

Kids do best when they know exactly what is expected of them, and what "Being Good" is and what "Being Bad" is. She is setting up an environment where it is very easy and clear for the kid to make their decisions and know the consequences. They succeed rote-academically, they win. They don't, they fail.

That is a very un-anxious environment (presuming the kid actually CAN succeed, which most kids are gonna be capable of doing). So of course they can handle the tough stuff at them. They know what they need to do to get the good stuff.

It wouldn't matter what the hell she was being so clear about - she could be as clear about drawing creative paintings being a Win and being good at maths being a FAIL and the kids would oh wot a surprise, be good at creative paintings.

If American kids are floundering, it is because their parents are treating them like adults and not being age-appropriate with them. Which from what I read on the list, is really really common.

FWIW, I have plenty of friends who work in academia in Aust and they say all the asian students that come here, the first 2 yrs of their 3 yr degree, they have to retrain them, so they can think critically, as western academia requires, not to learn by rote what their lecturers think.

Inneresting huh?

- Leonie
pyraxis
Apr. 6th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
I never saw Grease but I looked up the plot summary and the characters. Is that what people like about it, a kind of love-to-hate thing about the main girl? I didn't think of how you could use a Mary Sue to help tell a story properly.

as an author, the important thing to understand is that you are writing one, or not. Not to be doing it unconsciously, but to be doing it - whatever you are doing! because that is creating the piece of writing YOU are wanting to write.

That's a good point. I didn't think about what story I wanted to tell. I was feeling it out to figure out what kind of story people might want to hear, since there are several threads of her life and themes and I didn't know what would appeal to whom. Still not really sure, so I might just have to pick what I'm most interested in and trust that if people are reading my blog, there's a good chance it would align with them.

If American kids are floundering, it is because their parents are treating them like adults and not being age-appropriate with them. Which from what I read on the list, is really really common.

What do you mean by treating them like adults? I know I always wanted to be adult, because adults get more complex toys. Kids' versions are always artificially simple and limited and boring, and it seems like as time passes they've gotten even more simple and limited. Like old-fashioned building blocks made of wood vs. plastic toys where a couple pieces can move but you can't do much else with it. It's all in-your-face, fast gratification, treating kids like they're stupid and unable to focus, not like they're mature enough to think and understand depth.

So of course they can handle the tough stuff at them. They know what they need to do to get the good stuff.

Oh is that what it takes to not mind being yelled at? Understanding what you have to do to be good? I like that.
tigerweave
Apr. 6th, 2011 10:48 am (UTC)
I guess storytelling is always finding a balance between the audience and the teller of the story - what stories inspires the storyteller to tell has to eventually line up somewhere with what the audience will sit still and listen too!

But there also consideration of style - some styles of storytelling appeal to different people more than others.

I know what you mean about kids being bored out of their mind with supposedly age-appropriate toys. But I read what you write and think "Yeah but the adults around you obviously didn't notice you were bored with them."
I actually meant more though in terms of responsibility and emotional maturity etc. Kids can only handle what they can handle at the age they are. Each kid is different, but still, if as adults we need to teach them emotional stuff and to learn to take responsibility, and that actions have consequences. All things you need to know as an adult, but you have to LEARN them at some point.

Getting back to that chinese mother - what has she taught her kids to do? To follow orders and to have others tell them what is important to them. She hasn't given her children any encouragement to work out for themselves what is important to them, and what they want to get out of life, or to basically think for themselves. Even her daughter was just parroting her mum about what she would do when she was a mother herself. Sheesh.

And nope I don't think it makes kids not mind being yelled at. I think certainty just means the child can make their own decisions such as "I am going to do xyz that I know I will get into trouble for, but I know I will accept the yelling coz it is worth it for me to be able to do the xyz" or "Nope, that soooooo isn't worth getting yelled at."

But it isn't simple really, every kid responds to praise and punishment differently. There is no one-size fits all.

And seriously, why do you want to be able to handle people yelling at you anyway? If you are getting yelled at, it isn't a very healthy environment. Mental health doesn't just come from an ability to handle Bad Things and not crumble. It comes from an ability to go "Nope, this is shite, this situation. I deserve better." And to get out.

pyraxis
Apr. 7th, 2011 12:20 am (UTC)
But there also consideration of style - some styles of storytelling appeal to different people more than others.

I hadn't thought of that either. That might be hard to find out too. I'll have to think about it.

I actually meant more though in terms of responsibility and emotional maturity etc. Kids can only handle what they can handle at the age they are. Each kid is different, but still, if as adults we need to teach them emotional stuff and to learn to take responsibility, and that actions have consequences. All things you need to know as an adult, but you have to LEARN them at some point.

Hm. I don't know if that's a problem in North America or not, because I barely know any families other than my own. It does seem like there's a trend where people have to deal with hard emotional issues sooner, but at the same time there's a lot more attention paid to emotional health than like 100 years ago. It's a weird combination.

Getting back to that chinese mother - what has she taught her kids to do? To follow orders and to have others tell them what is important to them. She hasn't given her children any encouragement to work out for themselves what is important to them, and what they want to get out of life, or to basically think for themselves. Even her daughter was just parroting her mum about what she would do when she was a mother herself. Sheesh.

Yeah. I saw that, that the 18-year-old daughter wrote this essay about why she loved her mother, but I don't think she's far enough to be able to know what she really thinks about it.

And seriously, why do you want to be able to handle people yelling at you anyway?

Because I want to start my own company someday, and startups are always full of people working really long hours under really heavy stress. Part of it's picking the right people, I know, but even healthy people have limits where they fall apart. I used to just say no, no, no, whenever something didn't fit my super-high standards, but it didn't work for me in the long run and now I want to learn how to work with people in bad times instead of just jumping ship when someone makes a mistake.
tigerweave
Apr. 7th, 2011 09:06 am (UTC)
In all honesty, with a mother like that, I couldn't imagine any 18 yr old kid unless openly rebellious, publically saying anything negative about their mother :-D

I guess there are a lot of people skills and leadership and management skills that could teach you things you need to be able to run a successful company right from start-up. I would imagine, though, that being really clear about what you want and don't want from your employees, and it to be realistic, and for it to be steady - as in not forever changing the goalposts on them of what you want from them, would be a really important element of it.
pyraxis
Apr. 7th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I think you're right.
tigerweave
Apr. 6th, 2011 10:50 am (UTC)
Then there is the question of whose definition of good are you going by? Someone else's? Your own? The bible's?

There is no definitive "Good." Even the value of a Mary Sue is disputed! Each person having their own opinion based on their own experiences and desires and prejudices
tigerweave
Apr. 5th, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
I think this place is a good example of where the world is really heading - using the internet to harness people to build a world that has a conscience and meaning beyond the $$$ bottom line.
Can't imagine that chinese mother even understanding the POINT to this organisation!

:-)

Check out how many members - over 444000 - in a population of 21 million, that is pretty high!

- Leonie
pyraxis
Apr. 6th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
By this place do you mean LiveJournal?

Yeah that mother never said what she thought about psychology and introspection, whether it would be something shameful and self-indulgent or a tool you could use to be even more successful.

How did you find out how many members?
tigerweave
Apr. 6th, 2011 10:17 am (UTC)
Nope, I didn't mean Livejournal, sorry must have not put the link in. I meant this political and social activism organisation called "GetUp!" which is doing a LOT of good in Australia :-) It is definitely harnessing the internet and the people who use it, giving them a voice beyond the right-wing radio talkback shows and crap, the traditional media who claim the talk for all Australians. They don't, they have just not noticed that heaps of Australians just don't bother ringing in radio talkback shows, or writing to the paper news agencies. They are emailing and twittering and facebooking and making their own youtube vids.

The world is a very different place depending on what part of it you focus on eh?
pyraxis
Apr. 6th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Oh! I found its website, and from there I found the concept of homelands and their blog. It seems so different than how things went for the indigenous people in Canada and the USA. But maybe a lot of it's the same. Still I was looking at their map of the Northern Territory with all the homelands marked, and it's so different to the USA which is beyond overrun and the reservations are tiny. Maybe a little like northern Canada where white people haven't settled it much, except for scientists, because it's just too cold.

Yeah the internet is changing things all over the world. I thought it was really awesome that the grassroots protests all over the Middle East are getting organized on Twitter and Facebook. Nobody can stop education :)
tigerweave
Apr. 7th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
More like Canada from what I understand of Canada. In the NT, a quarter of the population is indigenous and a lot of those people live on remote communities. And most of them really ARE remote, only reachable by hours of driving, or flying, and some places don't have an all-weather strip. And this time of the year plenty of the roads are flooded so impassable. It is a lot worse this year, but it still happens every year.

Don't know why white people never settled there. There are plenty of cattle stations in north and central Australia. But most of Australia's population is along the eastern seaboard like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the coastline in between. The rest of Australia is comparatively empty. Even Perth, in the south west, which is a reasonably-sized city for Australian standards, is nonetheless very remote from those big eastern seaboard populations. Got to travel for 1000s of km to get anywhere similar size.

Yep I love the way the internet is working in the middle east too!
jaywalkermaybe
Apr. 5th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
Well, i just spent at least an hour reading the articles and comments, and all i can say is that i totally agree with everything Leonie wrote :) (thanks for saving me a writing job, Leonie. And for saying it better than i could)

Just one thing puzzles me, here: if you measure success on some kind of competitive scale like grading, surely you're gonna have losers as well as winners? so what happens when Chinese kids don't have Americans to measure themselves against, just a bunch of other Chinese kids?

Oh, and this:

FWIW, I have plenty of friends who work in academia in Aust and they say all the asian students that come here, the first 2 yrs of their 3 yr degree, they have to retrain them, so they can think critically, as western academia requires, not to learn by rote what their lecturers think.

Inneresting huh?


I embarked on a Bsc course , a decade or so back, and found out that Britsh Universities have exactly the same problem, with British students. Given our opposite parenting style, how the heck shall we account for that? . It was bloody alarming , in any case. I kept thinking "Heck, these kids are gonna wind up in really Responsible jobs. No wonder Society is Screwed"
pyraxis
Apr. 6th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
Just one thing puzzles me, here: if you measure success on some kind of competitive scale like grading, surely you're gonna have losers as well as winners? so what happens when Chinese kids don't have Americans to measure themselves against, just a bunch of other Chinese kids?

I was wondering what would happen to that lady if she had a mentally disabled kid.

I guess she'd have to call it something other than being a Chinese mother if she was in China.

I embarked on a Bsc course , a decade or so back, and found out that Britsh Universities have exactly the same problem, with British students. Given our opposite parenting style, how the heck shall we account for that?

They say the same thing in USA colleges. "Why don't these kids have critical thinking skills anymore?" But I think there's other things involved, like they don't think because they weren't exposed to enough smart things to pick it up by osmosis, rather than not thinking because they're trying to please people by rote.
lb_lee
Apr. 5th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
I was not raised in a household like you describe (thank god), but I feel I've gone from that mindset described above to the more fluffy, coddling mindset. Until I met Mac, I worked my ass off, and agonized over succeeding; I was that overachieving nutball who literally fucking cried about being twelfth in the class of over four-hundred and fifty, because goddammit I WASN'T IN THE TOP TEN WHICH MEANT I FAILED EVERYTHING AND WAS WORTH NOTHING.

The thing was, I never succeeded. If I succeeded, I just raised the bar higher until it was impossible to reach. Because otherwise I was lazy.

Then I went to college and met people who were even more psychotic than I was, and I suddenly realized, "Holy shit guys, this isn't a game I want to win!"

I'm less successful nowadays. But I'm a hell of a lot happier.

--Rogan
pyraxis
Apr. 6th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
I used to cry over it too. One time they pulled me out of class and took me to the counsellor because it's wrong to cry over getting 8/10 on a quiz, but nothing ever came of it.

For me I don't get happier when I stop caring about succeeding, just when I stop caring about the things other people want me to be good at.
lb_lee
Apr. 6th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I think I worded that badly--I stopped measuring success in the same way. So I stopped trying to succeed in ways that brought me only misery.

...so, what you said.

--Rogan
wolfteaparty
Apr. 5th, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
I think the thing about handling one's writing being criticized (which is the inevitable result of being a writer) is trying not to let yourself feel defeated, but figure out what is constructive criticism and what is bullying. This is the balance I've been trying to strike, since each author, whether amateur or experienced, seems to have a different set of criteria of the "right" way to write. Though (I had never heard of a Mary Sue before) that article had me kind of worried Lillian was one. :P

I've been thinking lately about the differences between parents like the Chinese and parents who don't expect their child to actually do anything besides play video games yet tell him he's the greatest, leading to someone lazy and spoiled. It's probably healthiest to strike a balance in the middle somewhere. Though this leads me to wonder what a Chinese child with undiagnosed learning disabilities has to go through! I spent my high school years pushing myself to get As and be in the honor society and the advanced classes, even though my parents weren't very tough about grades (they still expected decent performance).
pyraxis
Apr. 6th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
Though (I had never heard of a Mary Sue before) that article had me kind of worried Lillian was one. :P

I took the test for Marai and got 34, which is supposedly on the borderline. I decided that was ok.

I guess Lillian might have some of the same traits, but it's hard to say because I don't know her story. To talk to her she just seems like an ordinary person.

Though this leads me to wonder what a Chinese child with undiagnosed learning disabilities has to go through!

Yeah I agree. There's that stereotype that all Asians are smart and it would suck to be not-smart and always have people looking down on you and expecting you to do school things and probably not noticing the things you were actually good at.
wolfteaparty
Apr. 7th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
She doesn't seem so ordinary in the story, having special powers, having autistic traits, having a history of trauma/being the underdog, being attractive, and having flaming red hair. :P
yonjuunana
Apr. 6th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
Though this leads me to wonder what a Chinese child with undiagnosed learning disabilities has to go through!

Ugh... this is reminding me of something extremely depressing I saw on an autism forum a long time ago. Some autistic girl from an asian family was trying to seek support because she was having to deal with her parents denying the fact that she was autistic and trying to force her to learn at a normal level despite her school assessing her as such and putting her in special ed, as well as them telling her that if she really was autistic it meant she was an embarrassment and should kill herself. It was horrible. Luckily she seemed to be rebelling and getting into art stuff and finding her own path, hoping things turned out okay for her.
wolfteaparty
Apr. 7th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
That poor girl... I think that moves beyond cultural differences and turns into psychological abuse. I hope she turned out okay too. I read an opinion article by a man who had grown up getting beaten and yelled at, and his parents also forced him to eat cow brains to make him smart. He claims that he ended up in psychotherapy and is now not giving his children the strict Asian upbringing.
lb_lee
Apr. 7th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
I had to come back to think about this part; I think about this TOO MUCH
Also, far as Mary Sues go, I seem to have a different definition of one than others, in that I care less about how beautiful/talented/magical she is, and more about context.

Hephaestus, after all, might dominate in Humanlandia, but on Olympus, he's a softball. You can have an elemental half-unicon, half-human princess who talks to animals, and if she's surrounded by half-chimeras who destroy planets for fun, she still has a lot to fight against.

So it's all about context for me. It's not what the character IS so much as how the author treats them. It's when what the author THINKS their favorite character is and how the character ACTUALLY is are horribly at odds, and the author seems completely oblivious to that fact.

For instance. If you give me a character like Anita Blake, I will find her very Sue-y, even though as far as powers go (in the beginning) she's pretty low. She's your average badass human with a gun in a world surrounded by vampires, demons, lots of powerful entities that eat people for breakfast. (But she never seems to lose fights.) She apparently lives in a world that is gritty like ours (but she wears guns EVERYWHERE, even when it's horribly inappropriate). She is supposed to be a good hero and a good person but flawed... but she is totally okay with lying to an unarmed suspect--saying she won't kill him if he confesses.

This character, I THINK anyway, is supposed to be portrayed as a good but flawed hero who generally tries to do the right thing in a world that's harsh and vastly more powerful than her. Which I would read, except to me, she comes off as a bizarrely violent person who does horrible things and never gets called on them.

It's the lack of getting called on behavior that any other character would get called on that defines a Sue for me.

--Rogan
(Anonymous)
Apr. 10th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
My brother in law and I both have severe mental illnesses.

He was coddled. I was not.

We're both in our 30s now. I have a steady, full time job. I am independant. I am able to sustain the demands of tertiary education. I have been published.

He bums a ride home off of me every holiday because he doesn't have a car. He lives alone. He can't hold a job. He believes the world revolves around him. His mother still settles his disputes for him.

I'd rather be pushed than coddled.
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