Hello, hello, my lovely cynics.
First off, thanks for supporting last week’s post “You Know You’re Asian-American When…” I was pleasantly surprised at the reception, and since y’all enjoyed it so much, I have decided to give that list a little tweak, exposing the flip side of that in this entry.
I know, I know: I am Asian-American and yes, I do “traditional” Asian-American things like speaking my native language, cooking and eating the cuisines, celebrating the holidays (fyi Chinese New Year is coming really soon- excitement…!!!), and so on. Yet, at the same time, I feel like at times I don’t really fit in with the “typical” Asian-American crowd. This crowd I am referring to consists of those at my school, my friends, even people I don’t know in public. Basically, I don’t feel like I engage in the hobbies, the activities, the passions of my so-called “kin,” at least the majority of the time. It gets to be quite isolating, not to mention uncomfortable when they are discussing the said-passion/hobby/activity that I know nothing about. Sigh.
(Just a quick side note: when I was talking about the “typical” Asian-American crowd, I am not referring to FOBs. While they are a part of the crowd, they do not completely represent it. There are other groups different from them, but that still are categorized under this umbrella classification.)
But I’m getting off-track. And now, I present to you my (brief) list of reasons why I do not consider myself Asian:
1. The Hair
You may not know this about me, but my hair is curly. Wavy. Kinky. Whatever you want to call it, just anything but sleek and straight. (Interestingly, I recently discovered that curly/wavy hair is a dominant trait, whereas that of straight is recessive.) Now, I’ve met, and am friends with, other Asian-Americans with curly/wavy hair, and some even more crazier than mine! But in the large, large population of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, etc. individuals, the hair is straight. And although I’ve accepted my non-normative hair, as a child I was incredibly envious of those who had neat tresses- easy to style, easy to maintain. While I was *figuratively* ripping my head off from brushing the tangles and shit from my frizzy ‘do, others, with three sweeps from the comb, could whip up versatile hairstyles that I could never pull off. But, as I’ve said, I’m more accepting of my wavy hair. It’s actually softened and relaxed over the years, and, by knowing which hairstyles suit me, I have been able to manage my ebony locks quite well.
Maybe I just happened to hang with these people, but I feel like religion is a big part of the Asian-American lifes, particularly for the Chinese and Koreans. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, you name it. I am not against any religion, and I accept my peers’ beliefs. But it just so happens that I am not part of this system. I’m not even comfortable to label myself as atheist or agnostic, for those are ideologically-based as well. I don’t fully believe in anything, and that’s all right with me. But I found it interesting that some of my peers, who at first do not know my religious background, assume that I was Christian. Maybe it is because the aura that I give off (serious, dedicated, doesn’t engage in destructive behavior, “pious”-like), but I found that assumption quite surprising (not the least insulting, either).
3. Asian-American Popular Media
It’s been months since I’ve listened to K-pop. It’s been years since I’ve read a manga or watched a Chinese soap opera. And strangely enough, I don’t miss it. My interests have changed and I’m happy with the current one that I have. But my friends, my peers, they still discuss these media entities, whether over social sites or get-together parties. And because I’m light-years behind from the trendy happenings going on in the moment, I have no freaking clue what they are talking about. Although they are kind enough to give me quick summaries of the K-drama plot or the latest anime episode, I feel like they should not be doing so, if I were to have known what they were talking about (if that makes any sense). I sense this incongruity between what I’m passionate about (not all of which relate to Asian-Am culture) and that of my friends, creating a subtle gap between ourselves, as well as between me and my Asian-Am identity.
4. Speaking to parents in the native language
I’m Chinese, and yes, I speak Chinese to parents. At least, 10 to 20 percent of the time. For the most part, it’s English. Many of my peers speak to their parents in their maternal language because they have to: their parents do not know or know little English, so the best way to communicate with them is through their native tongue. However, I’m fortunate to have parents with extraordinary English-speaking skills (okay, I exaggerate, but their accents are super subtle in that Americans can understand them), but at the same time, their knowing of English gives me little incentive to continually keep up my Chinese-speaking skills. They have encouraged me to speak to them in my maternal language, but I’m not confident enough to do so. I say something off, and I’m *lightly* chided. I hate being embarrassed, and go to great lengths not to be. Besides, it’s much, much easier for me to communicate in English, especially when it comes to higher-level thinking. Essentially, it’s my fear that’s preventing me from being fully bilingual, and it’s something that I have to work on. I’m trying!
5. Not studying Science or Economics and not aspiring to become a doctor/pharmacist/businesswoman/CEO/etc.
Okay, so I used to be in the Science major. But then I wasn’t enjoying it (nor making the best, stellar grades), and decided to pull myself out before things got shittier. I am much happier in my area of specialization and have no regrets, but it has made me reconsidered my career options. In this world today, there is a great demand for workers in the medical and business field, for that’s the way society is operated. We always need CEOs to manage companies, nurses to care for us, pharmacists to give us the drugs, and stuff like that. I feel like those are more essential to how we live our day-to-day lives, rather than on…entertainment. Now I may know some people who might argue that they can’t live without entertainment *ahem video-gamers, Tumblr-users* but if you really look at it, it is not the bare essential for surviving. Entertainment does not only mean in social media forms, but also in other creative, intellectually-stimulating processes like literary criticisms, theories, dissertations, ideas that you would see in newspapers or scholarly journals. And I like to write: I’m fine writing argumentative theses and objective papers, but I am also really into poetry and blogging. It’s a super long shot, but I want to make a career out of this hobby of mine. I want to show others that, while I am not scientifically-minded, I can find success in the world.
That’s it. I realized that this blog entry isn’t as fun or light-hearted as the one from last week, but I just wanted to show y’all that not all Asian-Americans act the same, nor have similar ideals. I hope, however, that you found some relevant points that may apply to your own life, even if you may not be Asian-American. Once again, thank you.
-The Finicky Cynic