My mom instilled in me the fear of regret (+idea for a show)

My Secret Notebook
3 min readMar 17, 2022


At the end of the 1994 home video of my 5th birthday, I run up to the camera and obnoxiously sing the tune of “Dance of Youth” (青春舞曲), a Chinese folk song about the bird of youth never coming back.

Watching this now, I was stunned.

This chilling melody was the song to what my mom would later write in a letter email 15 years later telling me to never forget about that song she used to sing me: that the bird of youth never comes back.

I just reread the lyric’s meanings, and it’s about how even though the sun sets, it will rise again; that flowers will bloom again next year. Basically, the cycle of nature continues without fail. But once the bird of your youth flies again, it will never come back.

She really emphasized how the opportunity to learn and make the most of your life is a one-time opportunity. And you have to make the most of it, the best of it. And even to this day, I found myself answering “What is your greatest fear?” with “the fear of regret, the fear of not trying harder, the fear of missing out on opportunities”.

And that’s without me really thinking about my mom’s influence. It’s me genuinely thinking what I care about, what I fear.

But this “brainwash” if you will, can be dated back as early as my 5th birthday because I was clearly singing that tune.

But let’s separate her influence for just a moment, for argument’s sake. When you look at my personality type ENTP, a lot of literature says that we really don’t like closing opportunities. We like to make decisions and plans that give us the most options. In a way, you could say, my “inherent” personality is already fearing of lost opportunities.

Perhaps it is the perfect alignment here that created such a powerful duo between my mom and I: a woman I surmise carries substantial internalized regret who wants to ensure her beloved son doesn’t make the same mistake, and a boy who wants to make the most of opportunities.

If her influence can be summed in once theme, it would be this song.

As an aside, I was thinking today, if I were to write a story/show about me going back in time (watching these tapes transported me back), what would I do different? I’d probably be more open about my orientation. I’d try to make sure my mom’s health was prioritized, that she get her ovaries removed when she had surgery on her uterus, and that she sought medical attention sooner before her cancer worsened.

At the same time, what kinds of obstacles would all of that meant? Being gay would’ve worried and troubled my mom. She would cry, and it’d be a big deal. She would likely be upset/against it in the beginning. But I do believe she’d come around eventually because she loves me. What would that look like?

As for her health, would my worrying annoy her? She would feel so loved for me caring, but she would also feel guilt for making me worry. I think she was relatively impressionable in terms of her medical decisions (ie. the ovary removal), but for other things like medical attention in the US, she couldn’t seek it because it was too expensive, and she didn’t have healthcare. What would the workaround have been for that? Go in debt for sooner recovery?

And if I’m transported back, she’d be angry if I were to lose focus of schoolwork and other stuff. I was way too busy, and I couldn’t just put everything down and reprioritize. I think really reliving that would be an interesting premise of the show. And then adding on the musical theme that directly ties the philosophical theme of making the most of every opportunity. How this magical opportunity of going back in time was also a test of the lesson to make the most of borrowed time.

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I also really like birds (I had parakeets before), my dad used to call me Birdie as a nickname, I’m like a parrot because of my accent-mimicking abilities, and my favorite stuffed animal was an owl. This is the perfect theme for concept, music, and visuals.



My Secret Notebook

Quirky, curious, and philosophical Asian American gay Ivy League grad living in Southern California.