Identity. This is something that I struggled with growing up.
Having an interracial background is both a blessing, and a curse, however when I was younger it was more of a curse than anything. I was raised in a very controlled church environment and spent my formative years with the same group of 15 or so kids until the 4th grade. These kids, unlike me, were white and of Anglo-Saxon decent. However, we were all kids so we didn’t know anything besides the tiny protective bubble our parents put around us. I can remember thinking at one point while out at recess one day that my skin wasn’t as pale as everyone else’s and as my best friend Kaitlyn put it, I was yellow, and she was freckly.
It didn’t really bother me until I transferred to another private school, which was still dominated by white people. At that time I had discovered mirrors and actually started paying attention to my appearance. I remember hating the way I looked, everything ranging from my curly hair to my nose, which was a cross between my dad’s almost Jewish nose (thank goodness my uncles inherited that gene) and my mom’s asian one. I would literally wake up, look in the mirror and just stare at my nose, hoping that my parents would consider my outlandish request for a nose job for Christmas. Just kidding, I didn’t really ask for one, but I spent a great amount of time wishing that I could get one.
Thankfully I grew out of the insecurities I had as a 12 year old.
Every now and then I get a little annoyed at how insensitive people are at times. Living in Texas, in which there is an abundance of Hispanics I often get asked, point blank, “Are you Chinese or Mexican?” because I’m tan, but not quite Mexican looking. Once, I was delivering something to a teacher and a random kid seriously just asked me that in front of everyone I just stared at him thinking, “Really? You couldn’t have asked for my name first or something?” but I’m so used to it that my response is almost robotic.
My dad is white. My mom is Filipino, which is Asian (you have no idea how many times people are like, what’s Filipino? –face/palm-).
As I’ve been slowly coming to terms with my identity concerning my family background and my physical appearance I can’t help but feel a little lost when it comes to how I’m going to fit into the grand scheme of things.
The second I feel like I’ve figured out what I want to do with my life I reach an epiphany which completely blows everything out of the water. Take for example when I was deeply immersed is politics and I thought about being a political leader or something. Once I realized that it was nothing but a long chain of exchanging favors for votes and making “alliances” I couldn’t fathom being involved in something that was directly responsible for the well being of a large populace.
I’m so afraid of telling my family about whatever I want to do because their response is usually begrudgingly supportive. They’re not going to tell me no, but oftentimes they think that I’m not cut out for whatever I want to do.
I feel a little under pressure because I’ve only got until the end of college to figure out my identity relating to everyone else. I don’t want to end up with a degree I don’t feel passionate about, only to find myself dreading work and going to my job every day.
I know, I know, I’ve got a while before I have to make up my mind, but if I don’t figure this out now and just “see where the chips fall” then who’s to say I still won’t be pondering about this 7 years down the road?
No matter how you look at it, you’re defined by your profession, or the direction you take in life. Bill the accountant, Susan the teacher, Mary the housewife, Obama the president, Jesus the son of God, Bill Maher the comedian… See what I mean? It’s everywhere, and there is no escaping it.
I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want my identity to be Lizzi the indecisive drifter.