What ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Showed Me About the Paradox of Achieving “Nothing”

Did Evelyn have anything to show for after a life in the laundromat? Did I as a homeschool mom?

Evelyn Wang feels like she has achieved nothing.

Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is the main character in award-winning film Everything Everywhere All at Once (spoilers ahead). In her current life, she experiences the tedium of running a laundromat business. As she visits other parallel universes in which she is a successful actress or a skilled teppanyaki chef, she begins to see her current life as the result of a series of bad decisions.

Evelyn soon comes to the devastating realization that she has not accomplished anything significant. Her marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is on the rocks. Her relationship with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is, well, hardly joyful. Overall, her life seems to be a complete failure.

Where I identify most with Evelyn’s identity struggle is in her role as a parent.

My husband and I are from Taiwan. We met and married while studying in Germany. After graduation, I left my career to support my husband’s work, moving from country to country and city to city.

When I became a mother, I received a call from God to become a home-schooling mother. I enjoyed living with my husband around the world and savored every moment I spent with my children in homeschool.

I am thankful for God’s blessings in my family and marriage. But occasionally, in the quiet of the night, I have wondered what my life would have been like if I was not married and if I had not become a mother. There are times when I miss experiencing the passion for the political ideals I held as a student.

Yet, I stand by my choice to give up my career and homeschool my children. As Evelyn’s life reminds me, choosing to serve others by achieving “nothing” in a world that pursues upward mobility requires a deep love and a …

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