The Identity Crisis You Face As A Child of Immigrants
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

The Identity Crisis You Face As A Child of Immigrants

A letter to those who feel as though they do not belong in their parents' culture, or American culture.

8619
The Identity Crisis You Face As A Child of Immigrants
Matthew Nguyen

In 1975, my mother and father did something more impressive than anything I will ever do: they left their home country of Vietnam, and immigrated to the United States. While leaving Vietnam may have been daring, it was not the end of our family’s struggles. My parents learned right away that in order to thrive in America, they had to adapt. After awhile, they learned English, went to American school, and now, they are living lives similar to a non-immigrant family. They are able to enjoy life in America (within limits), but are also still very much established in their Vietnamese culture. They have assimilated, but not completely.

Now, as the son of immigrant parents, I face an identity crisis. I’m too Asian for the white kids, and too white for the Asians.

Growing up, I was pressured to “succeed” in America, and to do this, I needed to adapt in a society that wasn’t really my own. I always thought of myself as an American, as my guilty pleasures included cheeseburgers and reality TV. However, being pressured as a child to fit in with American culture caused me to become “too white” in the eyes of my parents, while at the same time, the white kids at school (I grew up in Florida, going to predominantly white schools) would insult my Asian traditions.

The issue I face now is that I am disconnected from my family, and I am also disconnected to the society I live in. My family and I have issues with communication due to my lack of knowledge of Vietnamese customs, and I am considered an outcast to white America. While not fitting in with American standards is mostly not my own fault, being apart from my Asian identity is definitely due to my own actions. I wanted so badly to fit in with white people that I ended up feeling a sense of resentment towards my parents’ culture. I was so focused on perfecting my English (in order to not be ridiculed by the white students at my school), that I never really learned Vietnamese. Nothing makes me more upset than not being able to fully communicate with members of my family, specifically my father, who enjoys speaking his native tongue. Can you imagine going 20 years without being able to really talk to someone you love?

Being 20 years old now, I feel a sense of regret, as I wish I focused more on learning about Vietnamese customs and traditions. I wish I never let myself feel ashamed for being Asian.

While the struggle of racial/cultural identity differs from person to person, I, myself, feel as though I am living within two worlds, but never really belonging to either. The sad thing many Asian Americans come to realize is that neither your Asian family nor white America will ever fully accept you, and that single feeling can make a person feel very lonely. You may enjoy using chopsticks, eating traditional food, and taking your shoes off after entering a house, but you will never really feel comfortable with who you are.

The life as a child of immigrants can be very confusing, and very lonely. You may never feel as though you have a sense of belonging anywhere. Random strangers tell you to “go back to your own country,” as though you were not born on American soil. Your family may call you “white-washed,” and you’ll feel ashamed. If this feeling hasn’t set in yet, you may still have time to enrich yourself within your parents’ culture, and I hope you do so. If you’re a younger Asian American and you’re reading this, I want you to know that trying to be a part of something that you are not—no matter how badly you want it—will not work. While you may want to be more white, you never will be, but your Asian family will always love you, as long as you embrace your roots. Respect where you came from, and it will make your life infinitely better.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Panic! At The Disco Announces Breakup After 19 Years

Band Makes Breakup Announcement Official: 'Will Be No More'

2553
panic at the disco

It's the end of an era. Originally formed in 2004 by friends in Las Vegas, Panic! At The Disco is no more.

Brendon Urie announced on Instagram that the band will be coming to an end after the upcoming Europe tour. He said that he and his wife are expecting a baby, and the life change weighed heavily in his mind to come to this decision. "Sometimes a journey must end for a new one to begin," he said.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Odyssey's response writer community is growing- read what our new writers have to say!

6279
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-writing-on-white-book-1043514/
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-typing-on-type...

Each week, more response writers are joining the Odyssey community. We're excited to spotlight their voices on as they engage in constructive dialogue with our community. Here are the top three response articles of last week:

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

To Mom

There are days when you just need your mom

18077
To Mom

There really is no way to prepare yourself for the loss of someone. Imagine that someone being the one who carried you for 9th months in their belly, taught you how to walk, fought with you about little things that only a mother and daughter relationship could understand. You can have a countless number of father figures in your life, but really as my mom always said, " you only get one mom."

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date

I need someone to show that they want me for me, not that they're using me to chase the idea of being in a relationship.

20339
The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date
rawpixel

You hear your phone go off. He's asking you to hang out. Then, of course, you get the advice of your friends to decipher this text. Is it just hanging out or is it more than hanging out? You've probably done this at least once in your life or at least seen a tweet where someone posted their screenshots with a potential love interest.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Winter Break As Told By 'Friends'

Is a month at home too much to handle?

12946

If you're anything like me, winter break is a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel after a long, stressful semester. Working hard for 15 weeks can really take a toll on a person mentally, physically AND emotionally. It's a nice change of pace to be back at home with your family and friends, but after a couple weeks, it can get, well... boring.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments