Ted sat on the train on his way back to Taipei and thought about how much pressure these people must have been living under. They created so many expectations and put so much pressure on themselves, just so that others would see them in a favourable light and they would be accepted in their society. No wonder the suicide rate was so high in oriental countries. With the pressure to perform well at school and at work combined with this kind of pressure on personal level must have amounted into an awfully huge deal of pressure. And they probably had no one to talk to about it since everyone held the same expectations in the society.

But wasn’t a society and culture with set criteria too limiting and unaccepting of individual differences? Wouldn’t that just make everyone feel isolated and lonely rather than connected to their country fellows?

Ted took a bite of the bun that Madam Wen had given him for the road. People here loved eating and made sure that everyone was well fed. It was such an important part of the culture that, instead of asking someone how they were doing, people would greet each other by saying ‘have you eaten?’.

No wonder one of his friends at university had felt the need to hide the fact that he was gay, Ted thought. The guy was from the east coast of Taiwan and had gone to all sorts of lengths to hide his sexuality. It was only when he met a German guy who taught him that there was no need to feel shamed of one’s sexuality that he came out and, in fact, after that blossomed and was no longer afraid to tell people that he was gay.

Ted decided that he would need to put extra effort into making his students feel confident and good about themselves, rather then always listening to others or trying to shape themselves to fit the cultural and societal expectations of the society that they were living in.

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