Growing Up Asian vol. 1

Buckle up — this one’s going to be educational.

I’m 19. I know, I know — surprising for a lot of you. I’m often told I act and carry myself differently than many other people my age. However, I do find that my lack of lifetime experience often leads me to weird and striking realizations. Lately, I’ve been finding myself really involved with my identity as an Asian-American woman. Maybe it’s a coming-of-age thing, or maybe it’s just the plethora of Asian-centric Facebook groups I’m a part of. Whatever the case, I definitely want to touch on a lot of my life as an Asian-American living in America. I guess I’m writing this in part to get all of this inspiration off my chest (I got in a fight with a bunch of gamers on Twitter about the fetishization of Asian women about a week ago and was met with misogynistic and racist comments), and also to acknowledge the fact that Asian-Americans should be aware and standing in solidarity with each other.

A lot of people may say that I’m sensitive, and point-blank — I’m not. I’m not a sensitive person, I keep a lot to myself; I prefer to keep my inner demons confined to my own thoughts. Ring a bell for my fellow Asians? I am not sensitive. I am, however, sensitive to these issues. As we all should be. So often are Asian-Americans silenced for speaking out against their stereotypes and generalizations. When I spoke out last week about fetishization, I was told, “You’re not an activist.” Fuck off. I attend marches to hear about issues like these; issues that are important to our community. I’ve even spoken at conferences centered around diversity for people of color. I am sensitive about these issues, because when we don’t speak out — Our oppression continues.

I’ll start with an excerpt from the short story, “Streets of Gold,” written by Asian-American author, Curtis Chang: “Unless we assert our true identity as a minority and challenge racial misconceptions and inequalities, we will be nothing more than techno-coolies – collecting our wages but silently enduring basic political and economical inequality” (373). Let’s not wade in silence.

I guess at the forefront, I’d like to address the myth of the Model Minority, in which case Asians are often seen as submissive to the white-aligned ideas of the country. There is a lot built into this myth, but that’s essentially the core of it. Asians are seen as smart and successful — how could that be a bad thing? I guess there’s a lot. Asians are often assumed to fall into the categories of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), alienating the many Asians that delve into creative arts. According to the United States Census Bureau, “Asians had the highest median income in 2017, $81,331.” Many people might think, ‘isn’t that a good thing?’ I mean, yeah, it is a great thing. I love that there are a lot of Asian-Americans that are doing well; however it’s also important to recognize the fact that socioeconomic status doesn’t determine a minority’s quality of life.

Nonetheless, the model minority myth perpetuates a false idea of success and security within our communities. While some Asian-Americans may have reached success, it falls upon us in a way that is beyond ourselves. The notion of being ‘successful,’ which is subjective, is a constant worry to Asian-Americans, especially those that may be taking an unconventional route in their life. Because ‘success’ is such an extreme factor within the lives of Asian-Americans, the group often aligns with Caucasians, as it’s the easiest way to assimilate. Then, this ends up overwriting the history of the Japanese who were forced into internment camps, the thousands of bombs leftover in Laos today, and many other wrongs committed to Asians. When Asian-Americans come to America, they overlook their own culture to assimilate to what is considered to be ‘successful.’ As someone who works with social media and writing, I often questioned what it would be like if I had gone into medical as I planned; what would I be doing now? I often question now why my parents didn’t stick closer to our Vietnamese roots, as I don’t speak a lick of my own language, nor do we really do traditional things. But I find that this is just an example of the assimilation they faced. I wanted to be different from Eurocentric ideas. I didn’t want to lose my identity through assimilation. So, I speak out against them.

When I speak about things like fetishization and stereotypes, I feel like I’m connecting to my roots. When I speak out against a white man’s obsession with Asian women, I’m met with comments like, “You’re too sensitive. Take a joke.” Honestly, part of me wishes I could stand idly by while things are happening — But I can’t. When we speak up, we’re given harsh criticism and we’re invalidated. I spoke up about something I have experienced time and time again, and yet, I was not taken seriously. I’m really passionate about my identity, and I know what’s right and wrong. If I shut up about these issues, I’m letting oppression continue to happen. If I shut up about it, I’m playing into the Model Minority myth of the submissive Asian. I am more than that. I am not the stereotype. I write this blog post in the hopes that other Asians will agree, and they’ll speak up for themselves. So long have we been hushed into silence. I refuse to let this happen to me any longer. I urge you guys to speak up, too.

With everything said and done, this is just the basis of what it’s like to be Asian, but not necessarily what it’s like growing up Asian. Let’s keep learning about ourselves. I’ll see you guys next post, but until then:

Continue Growth.

 

Citations: 

Chang, C. (1971, June 21). Streets of gold: The myth of the model minority. Newsweek.

US Census Bureau. “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017.” Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017, 12 Sept. 2018, www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-263.html.

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A Random Night in June

A couple nights ago, a random night in June, I spent hours doing the same thing, over and over —

Checking my Instagram, my dogs’ Instagram, my Facebook, my Twitter…

Suddenly, I found my inspiration again.

As most of you have noticed, I took a step back from blogging. Simply put, I had lost the motivation. I lost the motivation to go to school, to work, or really, to do anything. I laid in bed, day after day, and found myself in the same slump I was in last year. I asked myself, “was I depressed again?” No – It couldn’t be. 2018 was supposed to be my year. I stopped going out, and I had no motivation to truly succeed in any aspect of my life. When school ended, I was angry at myself for not applying myself to my full ability. I was angry at myself for not working a normal/stable job. Out of this all, I questioned myself.

Last night, a random night in June, I laid in bed with only my thoughts. I asked myself, “am I happy?” Thoughts and memories replayed in my head. “Yeah, those were good memories; that was a good day.” I wondered if I really was happy. I wondered if I was just associating good memories to my own happiness and wellbeing. A plethora of thoughts flooded my head, questioning myself and my own inability to comprehend happiness. Beyond the enigma, I was calm; while these thoughts were manifesting in my head, I didn’t feel stressed or nervous. For some reason, this random night in June brought clarity. Suddenly, I had the urge to write this post; I had the urge to center myself again. I found my answers. “No, I’m not depressed.” I spent years denying my depression, and this wasn’t another year of denial; this was supposed to be my year. I’m taking it back. “The good memories were happy times and happy memories; it’s just that I’m not happy all the time. But who is?” While I did question my own happiness, it was because I couldn’t tell if I was mistaking my good times for my overall wellbeing. After some thought, I don’t think hiking and spending time with my dogs melded my happiness into something else. I do it because the Earth is damn beautiful, and my dogs’ happiness is shared with my own. I don’t think raving masked my own perception of happiness. I do it because I like the music, vibes, and the people. These were just some random activities I found myself thinking of. These were the good times I sought after. For whatever reason, this random night in June allowed me to see clearly.

After some time of thought on this random night in June, I found my happiness. Happiness isn’t just a feeling. MY happiness is the collection of experiences I’ve lived through. Finding the best out of the worst. Living my best life to its fullest potential. In the end, happiness is subjective; I learned that you don’t have to be happy 24/7 in order to be a happy person. It’s okay to be unhappy. Shit, we all have our moments – some longer than others. Although my life is a shit show (if you know, you know), I had suddenly found my clarity.

I’m living my life happily. I hope you are, too.

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Taking Care of Yourself

I know it’s much easier said than done, but everyone seriously needs to take care of themselves. I mean, recently, it’s come into perspective how fast life can be taken from us. And a lot of people say that life is short, but only use that as an excuse to do dumb things. Life is short – so take care of yourself. I sometimes scroll through timelines and find myself reading my friend’s social media posts. “I wish I wasn’t like this,” and “Life sucks” are sprawled through the captions. Some of my friends are working multiple jobs, some are supporting themselves, and some just aren’t living a life that they deserve. I wish I could tell all of them to take care of themselves; when I have, it’s combatted by, “I’m trying.” In my opinion, taking care of yourself is the best thing you could do in any situation. So many times I wish I had put on a facial instead of crying over an assignment I missed. So many times I wish I could’ve gone to shower instead of laying in my bed, staring at the ceiling. So many times I wish I had taken care of myself when nobody else did. It’s so hard, especially when you’re depressed or feeling emotionally drained. But from one to another, please take care of yourself – it’s worth it. Even though you may be overwhelmed, taking 30 minutes out of your day for self care is replenishing. My tips for you:
  • Cry everything out
  • Drink water to replenish your tears
  • Eat a meal or a healthy snack (fruits!)
  • Take deep breaths
  • Take a shower (or bath, if that’s your thing)
If you don’t want to commit to doing something from the list, taking care of yourself also means:
  • Sleeping when you’re tired
  • Eating when you’re hungry
  • Ending a toxic friendship/relationship
  • Valuing your own mental, physical, and emotional health
  • Letting your emotions out (crying, venting, screaming, etc.)
I know a lot of people tell you not to cry, but here I am, telling you to. I don’t care what anybody says! Crying is so good for the mind and soul; even if you’re exhausted after, you sleep like a baby. Whether you’re a guy or girl, crying is never shameful. Let your emotions flow freely. Let yourself go. That is also taking care of yourself.
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Sensing Change

From my personal experience, I found that people don’t realize change until it’s already said and done. Like, you don’t really notice yourself going through puberty; you’re suddenly going from a acne-prone tween to a beautiful person. It’s one of those random days where you look back at your own pictures and go, “DAMN! I was ugly.” This was a common sequence of events in my life. I really swore I was cute in the 8th grade. I also really swore that my eyebrows were looking good in the 10th grade. Obviously I was wrong; I looked goofy as hell until about one month ago. But it’s not just me! Many people I know are appalled by their past selves; yet, they never realized the change.

Lately, I’ve been noticing something about myself. I started to notice myself changing. I didn’t set any new years resolutions because I find them kind of corny… In essence they’re just useless rules that people end up breaking anyways. I just told myself several weeks into January that I should be comfortable in my own skin. That’s when I finally accepted the fact that I would have no boobs for the rest of my life. That’s a step I guess. After that, I decided to have my first “photoshoot” in DTLA and honestly, I felt extremely awkward and didn’t even want to take pictures after about thirty minutes. I didn’t know how to pose or what to do with my face. I tried to embrace the feeling of not being comfortable, but I just couldn’t go through with it! I’m sure I could’ve gotten a couple more pictures but I just wasn’t feeling it. Anyways, from that photoshoot (if you could call it that) I realized that my fashion sense and opinions on beauty had changed. I found myself putting on falsies and wearing clothes that I wouldn’t typically wear. Shortly after, I found myself online-shopping with the money I don’t have – again. I felt like I was starting to dress more grown, and more like a woman. I wasn’t looking at comfy mens t-shirts, I was looking at heeled boots! Beyond that, I’m trying to embrace the change in my life.

I was showering when I had an epiphany. People really should embrace change! I noticed myself changing and instead of backtracking, I decided to follow the same path I’ve been going down. When you’re out of your own head, it’s so much easier to leave things out of your control. Instead of thinking, “this shirt is going to look weird on me,” think about how beautiful someone else is going to find you. There’s also importance in gassing your friends/significant other/family up. I had always been distressed about my weight (and still am). While many people would say they’d rather be skinny, I feel that they don’t really know what they’re wishing for. Really, I hate when people ask me if I eat – obviously I eat. I’m not a plant. I can’t be self-sufficient in literally producing my own food. However, with the support of friends and loved ones, I really stopped caring so much about people’s off-putting comments. I’m focusing on myself and leaving things to the universe. I realized change and left it to a higher power. Most of all, I’m embracing it!

I guess the point of this post is to tell you that change is inevitable. Sometimes, it’s best to leave it out of your control. This doesn’t just apply to physical characteristics either; maybe you’re moving somewhere new or developing new friendships. I also know a lot of people that are trying to get out of slumps or extremely trying times. That shouldn’t put a limit on your ability to realize and accept change! I know it’s easier said than done, but I hope this post inspires at least one person to put the idea of change into their mind. I also hope that this is something that’s relatable to a lot of people, because I wish I would’ve been told all of this about two years ago. There are a lot of people scared of change and a lot of people who seek it. Of course it all depends on the person, but from one person to the next, I recommend to accept what comes your way. CHANGE IS OKAY! Embrace it. Accept it. Love it.

Everything happens for a reason, even if things do change.

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When Stuck in Limbo

Lately I’ve been feeling a little uncertain about my future and what it holds for me. I’m the kind of person that has the same schedule over and over and over again, at least until I get tired of it. For the past few months, I would go to school, come home, do homework, sleep and repeat; thrown in there were working shifts at a boba place and hanging out with people I love. Once I finished my fall semester at PCC, I found myself hired at yet ANOTHER boba place. I put in my two weeks and that was that. Only, that wasn’t it. My new job is taking their sweet time doing construction, and I’m out of work for God knows how long. I thought to myself, “girl, you are a bum.” I was sitting at home watching Hulu day after day and I felt like I was in limbo. I knew I had stuff lined up for myself, but in the present I felt so unproductive. When was I going to get my next paycheck? Where would the money be coming from? Should I have waited on getting my credit card? After panicking about money and uncertainty for about 48 hours, I finally stopped to think. “Things happen for a reason,” is a saying I tell everyone. It’s seriously true, if I wasn’t depressed last year then I wouldn’t have been able to come up and feel the success of overcoming conflict. If I wasn’t kicked out, I’d be going to a different school, probably car-less, and just miserable. When things don’t go your way, I think that something better is coming. I finally stopped and took my own advice and figured that if there was any time for me to be fucking up, ITS NOW. I’ll let the universe try me and break me down if it has to; although I really hope it doesn’t. Don’t forget: things happen for a reason. Your current situation is not your destination. Maybe I should take my own advice more often.

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What I Learned in 2017

What a year… In 2017, I found myself going through the motions of life. I found that I wasn’t enjoying anything – I wasn’t happy. I was barely able to graduate, I felt unmotivated, and I felt lonely. After realizing all of this, I decided that this wasn’t the life I was meant to live.
  1. I was forced to move and found myself cutting off a substantial amount of people. Some I regret cutting off, because in reality I don’t have that many friends now; with others, I’m glad that I did something right. I took time to myself and gave time to people who genuinely loved me. Most importantly, I stopped wasting the time that every person demands and cherishes so much. I learned how to make use of my time. It’s easy for us to stand around and say “life is short,” but to understand it is something completely different.
  2. I blamed everyone for what the earth, gods, and whoever was in charge of life, threw at me. “I’d be happier if I had a life like theirs.”I didn’t want to turn things around for myself, point blank. It took years for me to realize that the situation doesn’t define the person. As long as you believe that you can do it, you will be able to achieve it. I don’t mean to sound like an old white guy life therapist but those are seriously the only words I can use to describe it. Use your time wisely and know that your life cannot change for the best overnight. Just keep working at it.
  3. It’s really rare for me to get a text message from one of my old friends asking to hang out. That’s because many of your friends aren’t permanent. And that’s okay. When you’re not constantly thriving off of others to make you happy, you create your own happiness. That’s not to say that company is bad – because it isn’t. But knowing that you are an independent person with thoughts and goals of your own is liberating.
  4. You don’t have everything figured out. Yes, it sounds mean, but I was depressed and seriously thought that my life was “all figured out.” There is always room for growth. I look at myself from 12 months ago and recall how much of a mess I was, even though I thought I knew what I was doing and where I was going. I couldn’t have imagined how much my life has derailed since then. I moved, a family member is terminally ill, I went from a student who barely graduated to a student in the honors program, friends are no longer friends, love, heartbreak, and the list goes on and on. Always seek out knowledge and discovery. Try your hardest for self-actualization. Cultivate and grow.
I know how much of a cheesy twitter account I sound like, but these things are what helped me figure out my life in the best way possible. 2017 was the year of change, and I’m hoping that 2018 is the year of benefit.
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