Issue Five: Self-Acceptance
Learning to accept who you are is easier said than done. It takes time. It takes hardship. It takes courage. You have to strip yourself down to the bare bones and question what makes you you. Growing up as an Asian-American in the United States, I have felt shame and pride in my dual identity. When I was a child, living in a non-diverse small town, I recall disliking the stares and whispers targeted towards my family and I, consisting of minute mockeries of our food; accents; and appearances. At first, I thought they were weird for making fun of us. After all, what did it matter to them? The food I ate, the words I spoke, and the features I carried had no impact on them. However, the longer people point out how different you are when you never thought you were bears down on your child-like mind. You start to wonder if you were normal. Then, you ask yourself if you should change. And when you’re a kid who simply wants to fit in as best as you can, you try. You don’t realize the traditions you’re pushing back when you attempt to be like everyone else. You ignore the sadness pooling in your mother’s eyes when you refuse to bring the meals she’s cooked for you to school. You lose a bit of the language that has floated across an ocean to be spoken by you. In the end, you forget a piece of who you are. I hid and lost myself when I was younger. I didn’t like being Asian and American. I didn’t like not feeling like I belonged anywhere. Luckily, I broadened my experiences. I met others who struggled similarly. I learned, as I hope anyone can, that I’m neither one or the other. I’m both Asian and American. I am a rich mixture of two countries. I am a bridge between cultures.