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  • Sophia Hotung

[Podcast] After-thoughts on meritocracy and success from my ‘What Kind of Asian Are You?’ episode

Updated: May 9



I was on the podcast What Kind of Asian Are You? talking about how I shifted from a corporate to creative career, my Hong Konger print series and upcoming book, and Eurasian history in Hong Kong.


However, what I really tried to confront and deconstruct in the interview is the insidious ableism and toxicity of the standard capitalist "success narrative."


I had to get to a point where I couldn't hold down a job, stand for more than 10 minutes, or wash my hair to realise that my or anyone's value is not measured by productivity, LinkedIn, or usefulness to others.


Like many millennials and Gen Zers, I've been tacitly conditioned to equate my value to my labour, to see interactions as transactional, and to perpetuate unhealthy behaviours that only further exacerbate my disabilities.


Being disabled and/or unable to work calls into question your whole value system, especially when you're a person who suddenly can't do anything but implicitly holds yourself to capitalist standards of meritocracy.


Naomi Osaka's departure from the French Open resonated with me in particular, because she not only demonstrated bravery and self-care, but also validated my own boundary-setting by snubbing a capitalist expectation for struggling individuals to push through pain to achieve success.


In the face of fines and ridicule, Osaka stuck to her guns and asserted that she had value even when she did not participate. As someone who has felt a frequent need to sideline my health and comfort to participate and thereby feel value, her actions touched and empowered me.


If any of this resonates with you, have a listen and give the What Kind of Asian Are You? podcast a follow to hear a different Asian person discuss their experiences every week. Kyle Leung is a great interviewer and always has interesting guests on (present company maybe not included).


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