With All Due Respect

December 15, 2021

Julia Magsombol (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


“Youth are supposed to be society’s tomorrow, but that’s all gone now. Youth are horrible and disrespectful. You can never expect anything from them.” 


A shocking line, isn’t it? It’s a line that I hear from different elders at every family gathering. Many young people may have heard it as well. And let’s all admit it: it’s tiring. 


I grew up in a very conservative family. My family and relatives are all strong believers in our culture, and they strongly maintain traditions. Trust me, I have seen enough of our elders trying to judge and provoke younger people. It’s wonderful to listen to elders and to let them guide us, but their lectures can sometimes be difficult to handle. 


Depression? It’s because you don’t have religion.


Last two years ago, I suffered from severe depression and anxiety because of school and personal problems at home. My face completely changed from before, when I was mentally stable. In the middle of winter, I was with my mom and we both went to a small grocery store. I didn’t look good. I was wearing an old hoodie and jogging pants. My mom knew all the people there who loved to gossip. The moment I entered the store, I could feel all the elderly women staring at me and talking amongst themselves. They said one thing to me: “You’re probably not okay because you have no God to believe in.”


The moment when those women said that to me, I was confused. I was a very religious person then. How could they criticize my belief and religion, just because I didn’t look good during that time?


When things sometimes don’t work in our lives, we can’t expect our religion to remove all our problems. It works for some people, but not for everyone. That’s one of the things that some elders should understand.


Sometimes, weight matters all the time.


As an Asian woman, our weight matters all the time. We should never gain weight and become fat. We are told that being fat is ugly and that no man could ever like us. My grandma used to tell my cousin to never get fat because it’s wrong and ugly. I clearly remember how my cousin became very conscious of her weight then and started eating less. She was only nine then. Sometimes weight does indeed matter. But remember, while weight may matter to some, it doesn’t have to matter to us too. We should never judge someone by their weight. We can eat what we want. We can be healthy. We can be ourselves. We don’t need to be skinny or have a specific weight for people to like us. We can appreciate ourselves for whoever we are. 


Your dreams do not matter. Mine do. 


We often hear from elders or parents that art or degrees that do not involve a doctorate or engineering are worthless. I dropped my dreams once. I hope others won’t do that just because their elders said so. It may sound a cliché, but we only live once. Life is too short to live for somebody else. It may be hard to achieve our dreams, but we should never surrender them because of others. We should still pursue them.


Stop discriminating against women. 


“Women are a disgrace.” 

Growing up as a woman in Canada made me realize how we are oppressed because of our gender and sexuality, and opened my eyes to the toxicity of our culture and family hierarchies. 


When I was growing up, I noticed how my uncles used to brag about how their sons were doing things that involved their sexuality. My relatives took these comments as jokes, but there was no such open conversation for women. 


I realized that there’s this belief from elders that women should not lose their virginity, but men should lose it right away. Women are constantly shamed for having sex, but men are always rewarded. Do those things matter? The concept of virginity should be gone, both for men and women. We should never be treated as lesser or greater because of our gender or sexuality.


You can never answer back. 


Lastly, younger people can’t respond to elders. It’s considered rude to talk back to elders, because they know better. Elders assume that when younger people answer back, it is a sign of disrespect. It isn’t. We are only expressing our opinions. 


Final thoughts: what should we do? 


Those are some of the brutal experiences I have experienced with elders, and there are more. How do we handle this kind of dysfunction? The answer is left for us to decide, but we should remember that mutual respect must come first.



Julia Magsombol is currently a journalism student from Edmonton, Canada, who desires to bring hope to people through her writing. When not writing or reading, you can catch her sewing clothes, painting nature and drinking instant coffee.

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