As we transition from baby to adolescence, and adolescence to adulthood, we face different challenges and environments that demand us to change and grow.
No matter where, we find ourselves trying to fit in with our surroundings or alter some part of ourselves to match those we immerse ourselves with.
This change isn't necessarily forced, but we are influenced by the people who surround us and we naturally shift. There will always be situations and environments we find ourselves in that demand us to grow and change.
The Asian American story is one of diverse ranges. Often times, it's easy to homogenize Asian Americans.
Everyone, including Asians, easily fall victim to this mistake as we forget to take into account the diversity of origins and experiences within the Asian identity and culture. Asians judge each other as "too Asian" or "not Asian enough."
But what scale is used to measure this and why do Asians rank themselves and each other on their level of "Asian-ness?"
Living in Asia for a few years before moving to the United States, I've been lucky to be immersed and get a better understanding of the Asian culture. I've also been able to keep that identity a part of me growing up in the US. However, as I grew older, I began to shed, little by little, my Asian identity.
When I was younger, my friends, particularly my Asian friends who were born and raised in the US, would tell me I was "too Asian." I had no idea what they meant as I thought that I acted "normal" and was just going about my day. They pointed out certain habits of mine and certain foods I brought to school for lunch saying, "that's so Asian." Slowly, I began associating this part of me as negative and became self-conscious, constantly trying to suppress certain habits and begging my mom to make me a simple sandwich for lunch instead of waking up early in the morning to cook fried rice.
This shift forced me to drop that part of me that I used to be so comfortable in. Less and less, I received comments of being "so Asian" and confusingly, yet surprisingly, I began to receive comments that I "wasn't Asian enough." I felt angered and lost. I gave up a part of me before to fit in, but after these painful efforts, they still weren't satisfied with me.
Growing up trying to fit in, yet trying to find my individuality, I became angry at myself for being so easily influenced by society, yet I so desperately sought to be accepted and liked. I continue to struggle finding that balance of embracing and being proud of my "Asianness" while also coming to terms of my American identity that I've inevitably found myself taking on.
Nevertheless, I am grateful for having these two very different cultures as part of my identity.