Identity: But Wait, There’s More

After weeks of not posting, I proceed to double post. Excuse the blogging faux-pas.

I didn’t think that anyone would be happy reading the wall of text that is the synthesis response to the establishment of identity through words and my thoughts on identity in general in the same post, so I’m making a separate post for my thoughts.

Since I’m going to be applying for college soon, I felt a rush to define myself, at least getting a general grasp of who I am and what I want. I found that I surprisingly knew little about myself and so I went about trying to fix that in the last couple of months.

The Catcher in the Rye really hit home for me because I feel scared as Holden is of growing up and have scorned the polite language that makes up everyday conversation. I still am very reluctant to let go of watching Disney classics in pajamas and reading in bed with a flashlight (I doubt I really ever will let go of these things), but I know growing up isn’t just what you do. Growing up is more of a mindset, and it’s hard coming to terms with a more “realistic” mindset. I know that “realistic” shouldn’t mean “limited”, but the two often coincide. What if I lose so much imagination that I can’t see solutions when it’s so obvious? What if I become one of “those people” in stories (real and fiction) that are so stubborn and set in their ways that they cannot figure out things that a child can simply point out? I struggle to find a balanced “grounded imagination”: not too idealistic, yet not too stiff.

What really brings me posting on identity though, is an essay I heard in English class the other day.  The author insisted, “I am not Asian”. He or she went on to explain that while she or he was Vietnamese, he or she was not Asian: not the type of person to “take more AP classes than they could count on their fingers”, not the type of person to play piano and tennis, not the type of person to obsess over grades. I listened to this essay and along with most of my other classmates, felt more than slight indignation and a call to battle over these “typical Asian” traits.

However, looking back on the essay, I admit I had once subscribed to a similar mindset as that of the author. I had felt, at some point, resentment at being Asian. A lot of articles online said that being Asian reduced your value in college admissions, that it was a disadvantage to be Asian. A lot of the articles said it would be better if you did not participate in the “typical Asian” activities and did something different so you could stand out. I had once been very disillusioned by the strong focus on grades in my community, but I feel like I’ve grown up, at least in this realm of thought.  I once felt trapped by these stereotypes, but I have come to embrace them. You know what? I am every bit of “that Asian kid” the author of the essay described. I have played piano for about 8 years. I do mind my grades and become a bit crestfallen when they take a dip. I dabbled in tennis.

I am “Asian” to a T.

But you know what?

That doesn’t bother me. Not like it used to. I welcome that my fear of being categorized as “Asian” with open arms. I refuse to be cowed by pointed remarks about being Asian because I know that identity is half action, half word. Sure I fit the stereotype. Heck I take the stereotype even farther having participated for a couple years in martial arts. It is the acceptance that is key; I am Asian, but that’s not the whole story.

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Identity: But Wait, There’s More

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