I dedicate this to all my fellow brown girls who practice their lines just to get a nod of approval from their parents to hang out with friends past midnight.
So… I finally did it (hold your dirty thoughts). I got out of the house past 9pm and had the time of my life partying it up without being told off by my strict parents. As a 22-year-old, I can honestly say I’ve never left my home late at night or stepped out of my comfort zone due to my
strict sweet upbringing.
Stricter-than-strict: A quick background on my parents
Growing up, I wasn’t allowed out after 6pm as my parents said it was “dangerous” for a girl. I was shut down when I talked back to them as that was considered disrespectful to my elders. Decisions were made for me (without my input) as my family believed they knew best.
All my life, I felt envious of friends who stayed out late, went to parties and wore clothes I couldn’t without getting (bombastic) side eyes from my mother. But later on, I realised I wasn’t exactly jealous of them. It was the freedom to be themselves that I badly craved.
Watching Hollywood movies, I thought I’d be able to do anything and have control of my life once I turned 18. But I was wrong. Even after that, my freedom was limited: my routine only took me from school (or work) to home. I received consistent reminder calls from my parents if I stayed out past curfew. And I ended each day with a report of events and people I associated with.
That’s why, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to jump on the invitation from my colleagues to One Night in Seoul by Unfiltered Presents.
The K-pop party featured throwbacks, new school tunes and ballads. It all sounded amazing and I wanted to be part of the party crew. (P.S. if you missed the last one, there’s another bash coming up on 24 June!) But before I took the leap of faith, I had to plan my first-ever night out with the approval of my strict parents.
Here’s my mischievous guide to scheming, strategising, and sweating less during family-approved nights out!
Phase 1: Plot like a pro for wild adventures
To win a battle, planning is key. For it to work in your favour, you need to be confident in your objective, know your enemy’s weaknesses and strengths, and gather allies.
First, I put together the necessary information for the event. Next, I practised my words and emotions carefully to convince the family I’d be a responsible adult. Tip: try breathing exercises to calm your nerves so that when you’re face to face with your parents, you won’t look like you’re lying. Practice the poker face!
To be successful, you’ll need allies – aka your siblings. They’re your ride or die in smoothening the process of your parents’ approval. If they refuse to help, just remind them of the things you did to cover for their mistakes (it’s not blackmail, I promise). I broke the news to my siblings, persuaded them to stand by my side, and brought up my sister’s memorable shenanigans over the years.
When you’ve officially acquired allies and mastered your words and emotions, you’re ready for the next phase.
Phase 2: Execute the plan with confidence
This is the most crucial phase. It can lead to either the first taste of freedom or the sour taste of failure. Here’s the scenario: You’re facing your parents. Your allies are in the middle. To swing things in your favour, start the discussion during their favourite melodrama series so they’re in a good mood. Whatever you’ve rehearsed, let it flow slowly and steadily. Get your siblings to chime in with support. Don’t fret when your parents’ facial expressions stay neutral.
Once you’ve provided the necessary information, the natural response of a brown family to their precious daughter will be an instant no. Here’s where you have to bring in the big guns if a logical explanation doesn’t come through – use your emotions.
I calmly told them (with puppy dog eyes) that it was my time to venture into the world to have eye-opening experiences and connect with new people. I didn’t want to stay home all the time, miss out on coming-of-age rites, and only try new things after marriage. It wasn’t fair to me. The moment my parents agreed to my monologue, I felt a jolt of true happiness bursting in my soul.
Fast forward to the day of the event. Before leaving home, I went through attire checks and the dos and don’ts: do send hourly updates through text, but don’t drink alcohol carelessly, and don’t go out of control dancing with guys. By 10pm, I was out of the house.
Phase 3: It’s time to get wild
I was on cloud nine when I saw my colleagues’ faces past working hours. We didn’t waste time and quickly went through security checks before entering Projector X: Picturehouse. Once we were in, it was time to party! I was mesmerised by the lights, music, and the crowd. But I still kept my word and updated my parents via text to keep their trust.
My honest take on clubbing? I enjoyed the entire night (without worrying about my mum’s calls) dancing to songs by 2NE1, BTS, NewJeans and Blackpink with my colleagues who had crazy moves that put K-pop stars to shame (joking!). One of them went feral on the dance floor which gave me the boldness to let loose. I also got a kick out of talking to random strangers about the weirdest topics. But, not being used to parties, at times I’d sweat like crazy and frantically search for ventilation.
My night ended with supper and I quietly sneaked back to my house at 3.30am even though I promised my mum I’d be back by 2am. As I locked the door quietly, I sensed eyes on my back. At that moment, I felt like I was in a horror movie.
True to that, I spotted my mum in the shadows. In the dark, I could only see her angry eyes. I felt her emotions and the words she wanted to say but she simply emanated deadly calm and went back to her room. Thankfully, the next morning, she was cool about it because I came home safely – ultimately, that mattered most.
After the party, I realised my parents put in place strict rules to ensure I was brought up safely. It’s simply their way of showing love, care and concern to me. But now that I’m a young adult, this conservative upbringing may deter my experiences of learning and growing.
My night of liberation gave me the chance to stand on my own and be confident about my decisions without too much dependence on my parents. And let’s be real: it’s tough to build a true bond between family members if there isn’t a certain level of trust and a loosening of control on the parents’ part. Now that I’ve successfully done it once, I’m more optimistic and self-assured about communicating my future plans of independence to my family. Every small step counts… so see you on the dance floor next time! (Maybe.)