I have already mentioned quite a few times that I have struggled with my identity in my youth… and am still struggling to this date, well into my grown-up years.
Maybe it is because I am an Asian brought up in Western culture.
Maybe it is because my mind and body do not always agree, causing me to feel off-balance when I am most in need to stand my ground.
Maybe it is because my differences from those around me makes me stand out, even when I try to blend in and be inconspicuous.
But I find that my struggles over identity has changed in quality over time.
In my youth, my differences were very apparent – I looked distinctively Asian in mainly Caucasian societies. So, at first, people expected me to be Asian: think like an Asian, sound like an Asian, act like an Asian. But once they found out that I could think more individualistically and less collectively if necessary just like them, and speak without an Asian accent just like them, and have occasional cravings for really unhealthy foods just like them, they started to see me as a “different” Asian. I could never be one of them, but I was accepted for the commonalities I possessed within. My struggle then was simply being able to accept that myself.
When I finally returned to my homeland, now I looked just like anybody else, but I was different in every other aspect. Interestingly, here too, at first, people expected me to be Asian. And interestingly, once they found out that I do not always think collectively just like them, or do not always remain silent unless the floor is clearly passed just like them, or always obey the elders even when their orders are unjustified just like them, they also started to see me as a “different” Asian. Now, I can never be one of them and I will be rejected so long as I possess the differences within. My struggle now is to be able to remain accepting of myself even when others reject me.
Maybe I am making too big a deal of my “differences.”
Maybe I should stop whining about being seen as a chimera, a monster who has inherited different cultural traits.
Because if I really think deep and hard, I cannot imagine myself being any other way. I would much rather be the monster than the mundane.
But maybe I can make my struggle more enjoyable.
Maybe I can aim to be a mosaic instead of a monster.
Yeah, I think I would like it this way. Much more.
P.S. Happy 149th birthday to my second homeland!
I may never be one of you, but I am proud to be brought up by you… you will always be my role model as a cultural mosaic.