This is a post of encouragement to all Asian Americans out there or Asians who are growing up in non-Asian countries, typically in Western countries.
Please, stop. Before you criticize yourself how Asian you are or how you wish you were born into a white family, appreciate your diverse family background. Your parents or family immigrated from their respective Asian countries, so that they can move to America to make sure YOU have a better life than they did. They did it for you, your siblings, and for themselves. They also did it for future generations to come. Asian American refugee families, remember our parents fled our native countries so that we don’t have to suffer as they did. They risked, literally, life and death to flee from political situations. We have a lot to be grateful for what our Asian parents and families have done and sacrificed. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and a big leap of faith to believe in your dreams, especially the American dream.
Yes, as Asians we face the pressure of being minority model in school and the social work aspect of the bamboo ceiling. Yes, we are constantly teased because of our ethnic features, names, and food. Yes, we are teased and reminded that we are not American enough for some people. Our people are not represented in the media nor are our voices heard. We face the highest level of bullying out of any ethnic group. Constantly, we face identity crisis and have a cultural battle of East and West.
Questions we ask ourselves. Should we forget our native or heritage language so that we can blend in with the greater American public so that we can be seen as “Americans”? Should we become more assertive so that we can been seen as leaders, even though in Asian or Eastern cultures, it is more about having inner strength than about being assertive or commanding. It is more about having a quiet leadership disposition. Should we work on our tan so that we can be seen more attractive in America, or should we seek to have white skin to not shame our families?
Our parents don’t understand how hard it is to be an Asian American, especially during our teenage years where we face the most challenging circumstances and try to come in terms with our identity. Our non-Asian friends and peers can’t fully understand the depth we go through unless they themselves have experience or witness it first hand. Even then we may have trouble connecting with our Asian American peers.
But why do I say to not be hard on ourselves, even though I listed so many issues and negativity? It is because we do face A LOT! The beauty of it is that because we do face a lot, we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves. We need to be more forgiving, kind, and not critical to ourselves. If we try to think positive of the circumstances we go through, we can be a good influence to others, so that way our stories can be inspirational and have significant value and impact. Americans no matter if we are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or whatever we all are love a good, sappy, and heart warming stories, especially rag to rich stories, or stories that deal with a lot of hardships and significant challenges. Guess what? You don’t even have to be American to like that! In fact people of all background like it too!
That means that as Asians we have a lot to offer because of our diverse multicultural background. We can be a voice and a lending hand to others, because we have been there and done that. We can sympathize and empathize.
Another reason why I say don’t be hard on yourself, is because every time you are dealing with more than one culture, you can never be fully immersed or 100% of one culture, because in one culture something may be seen as positive, while in the second culture that same exact thing may be seen as negative. For example if you value being quiet, it is definitely seen as positive in Asian cultures, however it is rather seen as negative or detrimental in American culture. Unfortunately, you win some, and by doing that, you lose some. You cannot have it all.
That is why you need to be gentle to yourself and give yourself time to be what YOU want to be. Don’t let anyone try to speed up your soul-searching journey. If you want to be loud, be loud. If you want to be quiet, be quiet. In other words take time to be you.
Be proud of your culture. No culture is superior than others. Yes, not even American culture is superior than Asian culture. Vice versa.
If you are not proud of your Asian culture, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself for it. Take your time. I encourage you to be proud of it one day. If you aren’t, challenge yourself to list the good things of it and do research on your own Asian culture. The more you do it, the more you will find that will make you proud to be of that Asian culture.
Yes, as Asians we face in my humble opinion significant challenges, as evident by the list of social challenges and issue above. However, let’s not let those challenges burden us, but let’s think positively of them, so that we can be a source of inspiration to others.
Most of all love yourself. Be kind to your heart and soul. Be you.