…But where are you really from?

So I get this annoying question, a lot, and not just from white people.

I’m a Chinese-American born to immigrant parents. I went to public school. Was never forced to go to Chinese school. My parents worked a lot. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. But along the way, I’ve learned to speak English a lot more than Cantonese.

When your parents aren’t the most talkative people, and were always working to provide a better life for you, staying in touch with your roots can be difficult.

Going to an American public school, as any normal child, I attempted to fit in. Unfortunately, in the process, it meant speaking English and only that. And you know how kids can be cruel – I still got called names for being Chinese. You know how the kids pulled the corners of their eyes up to mimic an Asian person and mocked the language. Yup. That happened to me in 1st grade… It started young. And unfortunately I wasn’t wired to let it not affect me. It did. I internalized everything.

Anyways, enough about that. But the point of this post was to provide my perspective and see how many others relate.

Have you ever had somebody of the same race immediately start speaking the native language, just assuming you speak it? And then there’s this horrible awkward moment when you tell them you don’t speak the language of your ancestors and they either laugh at you or give you a disapproving look? Or when you’re just talking to someone, whether they be Asian, white, etc., as yourself in plain old English, and they ask you where you’re really from? Like telling them being born in America is just not a legit answer?

And another thing that I’ve learned really annoys the hell out of me: When a white person admonishes you for not knowing how to speak your own language. Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t hear you speaking Gaelic from your Irish roots…

So I don’t think there is any way to really reconcile these issues. I’m sure I’m not, but I’ve always felt alone about this. Other Asians I know seem to be completely content with themselves. But they are surrounded by an Asian community of their friends and family. My closest group of friends are not Asian. My husband is a Jewish-American. Maybe that’s the difference? But I love the diversity of the community I’ve chosen to surround myself with.

I just need to learn to be okay with me and speak up for myself. I am my own person and not identified by what others think I should be. All I can do is continue being the kind, empathetic person that I am.

How about you? Do you have similar feelings/issues? How do you deal with it?

And BTW, happy mother’s day to all the mothers out there!





Meet Kit Kat, the Pudge Queen

Introducing my buddy, Kit Kat! She keeps me company and keeps my papers and books warm. She’s so cute that she makes me forget about all the annoying things in life.

But she can be a bitch. Still cute, though.

I still love her.

Crisis to Creativity

This is my first post, and all I can say is I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’m not just referring to this whole blogging thing, but about my own life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for everything I have and I know there are people way less fortunate, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re not sure why you’re here?

You get up everyday, do what you’re supposed to do, go to work, come home, cook dinner, wash the dishes, do the laundry, go to bed, and do it all over again with a feeling of indifference to it all? What’s the point?

I sound like I’m having an existential crisis, don’t I? Maybe I am…

But to provide a little background about myself: I’m a second generation Asian-American. I grew up, in a way, in two worlds. One world of trying to stay in touch with my heritage and roots, and one where I’m trying to fit in as an American, but always being reminded that I am a minority. To this day, I still have issues with my identity.

I am still trying to figure out who I am as a person, as myself – not as an Asian, not as a minority, not as somebody trying to get her parents’ approval.

And of course, it doesn’t help that I’m super sensitive, and very easily influenced. Feeling this way and growing up with my parents was difficult, to say the least. I needed acknowledgment and validation. I grew up to be extremely uncertain about yourself. It’s like, shut up brain! And shut up feelings! I hate that I can’t let things just roll off my back; I’m just not wired that way. I was taught to obey and not to question. I was taught to be quiet.

And then I go to public school, and I’m deemed too quiet, and lacking in critical thinking skills. My self-esteem just constantly kept at bay and never allowed to grow. And this continues on into high school.

Hmm.. it’s a wonder why I keep to myself and think so much, and have mental health issues. Where’s that glass of wine?!

So that’s how I grew up, always trying to fit into two worlds. Still trying, still sinking.

So I grab my wine and I think. A lot. And I read a lot of self help books. Ha. How do I learn to love myself? How do I become a better person? How do I become successful? Etc., etc., etc.

I usually keep my thoughts to myself, but why? So here my brain vomits all thoughts and feelings, hopefully in a somewhat comical, amusing way. But, also cathartic.

My head is like a crowded, cluttered drawer. Everything is stuck in there, but there’s no rhyme or reason. It takes a lot of organizing to make sense of things.

And I figured, why not have a little fun with it and get creative? =)