I'm An American-Born Chinese Who Doesn't Feel 'Chinese'
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I'm An American-Born Chinese And, Thanks To Stereotypes, I Feel Like I'm Not 'Chinese' Enough

From my motherland to my birthplace, there is always a conflict of what priorities and values win out in the end.

I'm An American-Born Chinese And, Thanks To Stereotypes, I Feel Like I'm Not 'Chinese' Enough

For any American-born Chinese person, it is very likely that one loses his or her cultural roots.

As an American-born Chinese individual, both my parents are immigrants from Asia and grew up with Asian customs and mentalities. In the homogenous population of Asia, there is usually only one type of people, and family and collectivism are stressed. However, being born in a completely different world - in individualist America - society is completely different. From my motherland to my birthplace, there is always a conflict about what priorities and values win out in the end.

Knowing the cultural gaps and desires of someone from a different culture, many Asian parents strive for their children to pursue someone of the same race - it might be due to subtle racism or the desire for their child to find a partner of a similar cultural background and appearance. Deep down I understand that it may hurt for a parent to watch their child grow up to be drastically different from them, or have grandchildren that grow up to look different and not speak the mother tongue. If that's how it's always been, it shatters one's worldview and it is often viewed as the Asian-American individual coming off as defiant and rebellious. However, this mentality can be extremely toxic and ignorant of Asian-American children.

Thank goodness. I never grew up in that kind of household. My mom and sisters have been very accepting of the LBGTQ community and different races, making me feel more comfortable about pursuing a loving relationship rather than one that fits societal norms. But, this greatly differs from most conservative Asian households.

In addition, the stereotypical Chinese individual is strong academically, fluent in Chinese and proficient at any musical instrument. The problem with that stereotype is that many children with an Asian background are expected to be talented to a fault and have immense pressure from stereotypes or family to reach these expectations. Nevertheless, I feel as though I fall short of this Asian standard since I quit piano, and I have the Chinese proficiency of a third-grader. Plus, my academics aren't very strong, especially my math. I managed to get myself through schooling, I just wasn't a part of an elite school, didn't do particularly well on my SAT's, or attend any IVY's. But in reality, success is difficult to fill if the container has no real shape in the first place, and it alone cannot be defined by academics.

Recently, I met someone who reminded me of what being "Chinese" really meant, according to the stereotype. He somewhat forced these stereotypical expectations on me. He was from a very stereotypically "Asian" household with a competitive mindset. I felt like I couldn't keep up to his expectations, and I realized I was constantly trying to prove myself to him. That was ultimately not worth it.

I'm sorry I've never celebrated the Chinese New Year. I'm sorry that I suck at math. I'm sorry I don't fit your expectations of what it means to be Chinese.

But, I'm grateful for who I am now and the upbringing I was given because it was full of love and acceptance more than anything else. I do play the violin and I can draw (like every other Asian). In the end, I am more American than I am Chinese. Although I lost some of my heritage, I still learn and grow as an individual through the culture that I'm exposed to every day. And, I will continue living my life knowing and reassuring myself that I am enough for me. So, will I be enough for you?

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