What It's Like Growing Up Half Asian

What It's Like Growing Up Half Asian

Is it really the best of both worlds?

Growing up, I never really realized how different I was from my classmates. Throughout elementary school, I blended in pretty well with the majority of my classmates since we all had similar skin tones but when then middle school came around and I started getting questioned about my appearance, it was really weird and hard for me because I was never questioned about my ethnical appearance before.

My dad, a pale skinned man with brown (now gray) hair and blue eyes, was born in Ireland. My mom, a tan skinned woman with dark brown/black hair and really dark brown eyes, was born in South Korea. I, however, was born pretty pale but now olive skinned, with brown hair and brown/orange eyes, and I could honestly say that to this day, I still look nothing like my parents. But I never cared if I looked like my parents or not growing up because I was a kid that just liked to play outside or go to the playground like every other kid.

But I always kind of knew that in the back of my head that I didn't really fit in when it came to ethnical appearances. I distinctly remember sitting in my classroom and looking at everyone, pinpointing and labeling all of their ethnicities and being jealous because I couldn't be easily identified like they could because I came from two backgrounds. I mean, the white kids looked white, the black kids looked black, the latinos looked latino, and the asians looked asian.

Then middle school came around. People starting learning that I was half white and half asian and they would make comments about it. They would tell me that I wasn't "asian enough" because my eyes weren't pointy enough or that I wasn't "white enough" because I was just simply mixed with asian blood. I absolutely hated it. I would always wear my glasses I had back then and never take them off anywhere but at practice and at home because people would always tell me that I looked "too asian" and at that time, it wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wanted to be fully "white" because I would get so many comments about me being asian and I was tired of it. So I thought that if I changed my brown hair to blonde or coloring it or whatever the hair trends that American teenagers were following those days, I could hopefully convince other people that I wasn't biracial.

I hate looking back on this because I remember being so mad at my parents for making me biracial. I would sometimes lay in bed and wonder why my mom couldn't have married an asian guy or why my dad couldn't have married a white girl. I feel extremely guilty looking back on it now but I was just a kid who wanted to be like everyone else.

And then high school came around and the amount of racial stereotypical comments that I have received for being half asian kind of stunned me.

"Oh, you're Korean? You're basically related to every asian out there." *eye roll emoji*

"Korean? You're probably North Korean. Terrorist!" You do know that there's a South Korea right?

"You should be good at math, you're asian!" I hate math. Just like 90% of the student population.

"Try not to eat my dog." I'm the biggest dog lover in the world, thank you very much.

"I colored you yellow because you're asian." Has anyone ever actually seen a "yellow asian" before?

"Asians aren't very good at sports. That's why they study all the time." BS. Have you seen me studying 24/7? Nope. I was at practice, getting ready to swim at states.

"So you're gonna be a doctor or lawyer right?" Do I look like I want to study for 8+ years?

Some of these comments were from people that I never really talked to before and some of those comments were made directly by my friends. But for those who don't personally know me, I'm very much a relaxed and chilled out person and that I would either just smile it off or resort to self-deprecating humor to just shrug it off. Looking back on it, I should've known that it wasn't okay to be thrown these kind of comments and to just shrug it off like it wasn't a big deal. Being stereotyped isn't necessarily a good thing in general.

To the people that are reading this, please keep in mind to never one-side a biracial's ethnicities. I'm not 100 percent Asian nor 100 percent Irish. I'm half Asian and I'm not just saying that as a claim to my white race, but I'm saying that because it's important. The biracial/multiracial community faces a lot of struggles that people of "one race" and even minorities don't ever come across. People like to label and organize things into categories to help them identify what is what or where things belong but when it comes to us biracial/multiracial people, we don't know where we belong. We always come across forms and surveys that asks us to select what race we are and we're forced to pick "other" because I can't pick "asian" and "white", while some of my friends can't pick "african american" and "white".

Despite the journey that I have had to overcome, luckily for me, I've learned to fully embrace my heritage and I'm tremendously proud of who I am. Yeah, I may not be like everyone else but that's the best part of being biracial. I was raised learning two different languages while learning about two different cultures all in one household. I don't know a lot of half-Irish and half-Koreans out there so I mean, I'm limited edition. I've got to travel a lot visiting my dad's side of the family, from Wisconsin to Canada and to Ireland, and visiting my mom's side of the family, who are located all over South Korea. With that said, I'm also a Canadian citizen who was born as a naturalized South Korean citizen AND can get my EU passport because of my Irish blood. I've learned so much about both the Irish and Korean cultures that textbooks can't even teach you.

But the main reason for why I'm writing this piece is for my family, for two reasons.

One, I'm going off to college very soon, therefore, I'm leaving my two younger siblings behind. One is going to high school for the first time and one is starting third grade. As excited as I am to head back to Miami, I'm also a little skeptical and worried to leave them behind because they won't have their big sister figure there for a long time. I don't want them to go through what I went through when it comes to learning how to deal with being biracial because it's really a confusing concept to understand. So to my two younger siblings and any other reader who may be biracial, don't ever feel like you need to be put in a labeled box. Forget about those boxes and just be you.

And two, I want to thank my parents and all the other parents who are either biracial or have biracial children. Thank you for being you and for giving us the blessings to be not only one major race, but two (or more) races. Thank you for giving us the unique lifestyle we get to grow up in that many other people don't get experience. Thank you for constantly reminding us that our background is nothing to be ashamed of, even with all the racial slurs we come across with, and to continuously be proud of who we are. You truly gave us the best of both worlds. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Cover Image Credit: Martin Schoeller

Popular Right Now

I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle – Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.

Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying.

What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense.

I've heard it all:

"He was cute, why didn't you like him?"

"You didn't even give him a chance!"

"You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous.

However, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well.

Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault.

If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention a girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs"

Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him.

If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking Snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it.

He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush.

Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Dear Beautiful Black Girl, Never Forget Your Worth

An ode to all the beautiful black girls.


We live in a society where societal standards greatly define the way we view ourselves. Although in 2019 these standards are not clear cut, some things are not easy to change. Not to play the race card, but this is true for women of color, especially black girls.

As much as I'd like to address this to all women, I want to hit on something that I'm more familiar with: being a black girl. Black females have a whole package to deal with when it comes to beauty standards. The past suppression and oppression our ancestors went through years ago can still be felt in our views of beauty. It is rare to see young black girls be taught that their afros and nappy hair are beautiful. Instead, we are put under flat irons and dangerous chemicals that change our hair texture as soon as our hair becomes too "complicated" to deal with. The girls with darker skin are not praised, but rather lowered in comparison to their peers with fairer skin. A lot of the conditioning happens at a young age — at the age of 8, already you can feel like you're in the wrong skin.

As we grow up, there are more expectations that come here and there, a lot of very stereotypical and diminishing. "You're a black girl, you should know how to dance," "black girls don't have flat butts," "black girls know how to cook," "you must have an attitude since you're black" — I'm sure you get the idea. Let me say this: "black girls," as they all like to say, are not manufactured with presets. Stop looking for the same things in all of us. Black girls come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and talents. I understand that a lot of these come from cultural backgrounds, but you cannot bash a black girl because she does not fit the "ideal" description.

And there is more.

The guys that say, "I don't do black girls, they too ratchet/they got an attitude" — excuse me? Have you been with/spoken to all the black girls on this planet? Is this a category that you throw all ill-mouthed girls? Why such prejudice, especially coming from black men? Or they will chant that they interact with girls that are light-skinned, that is their conditioned self-speaking. The fact that these men have dark-skinned sisters and mothers and yet don't want to associate with girls that look the same confuses me. And who even asked you? There are 100 other ethnicities and races in the world, and we are the one you decide to spit on? Did we do something to you?

Black girls already have society looking at them sideways. First, for being a woman, and second, for being black, and black males add to this by rejecting and disrespecting us.

But we still we rise above it all.

Black girls of our generation are starting to realize the power that we hold, especially as we work hand in hand. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Chinua Achebe, Michelle Obama — the list is too long — are changing the narrative of the "black girl" the world knows. The angry black woman has been replaced with the beautiful, educated, and successful melanin-filled woman.

Girls, embrace your hair, body, and skin tone, and don't let boys or society dictate what is acceptable or beautiful. The black girl magic is real, and it's coming at them strong.

Related Content

Facebook Comments