Monday, August 1, 2011

I know who I am, but what do I want to be?

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.


  1. This was well-written and I've been thinking a lot about identity as of late too! Are we sharing the same brainwave?

    I can't help feeling that my chances for college admittance may be influenced by my ethnicity. I guess I just have to do everything I can to counteract that.


  2. Wow, I absolutely loved reading this. I feel like it would make kind of awesome college essay, actually, now that I think of it.

    Though I'm no WASP, I'm definitely, well, white... talk about bor-ing. Feeling unsure of your identity must have been such a confusing thing to go through as a child, but to me having a background with a mix of cultures and customs and even physical traits definitely makes a person way more interesting. :)

    I don't know, though, about the whole direction in life thing. I definitely do not want to be that person that regrets the decisions that they made.

  3. I'm scared, confused, and worried too. Yeah, I would like to say I'm Arianna the writer, but then I lose all my writing confidence when someone shows up with a great story or I read my own unedited stories.

    I know one thing is for sure though. Lizzi, if anyone is going to find their identity and make something amazing out of their life, my money is on you. It really is. And hey, maybe once you leave Texas you'll find it. Living in our little city isn't going to help anyone find themselves.

  4. I totally know what you mean, it's scary to have to make these decisions but well can I just say I would love to Filipino? Ever since I was little, all my friends were and I was so jealous!

  5. A job is just that, a job. But I think it's how you live your LIFE and what you do with it, that defines you. Not the way in which you make your income.

    Sure you can let a job consume you and define you as a person. Or, you could go that extra mile and and do something worthwhile with your life and have people remember you for that.

    To me, a job is just a means to an end. It's just how I'd make money to get by. But I'd just use that money to pursue what I really love and am passionate about. I work in IT, but I still say my 'dream job' would be a photographer of some sort. And I'd 'fund' my hobby with the money I'd make doing my 9-5 job.

    Again, a job's a job... what you actually do with your life is what defines you.

  6. @Lizzie Yeah, I guess I'm a bit lucky that I have that "ethnic diversity" thing going for me.

    And sometimes I feel like we're on the same page and it's a little surreal because we've never actually met! However I think it might have something to do with the fact that we're the same age, with similar aspirations. It's comforting to know that there are kindred spirits out there :)

    @Natalie Haha, I might actually turn this into an essay now that you mention it. And I definitely agree with you, having mixed cultures makes people more interesting. Of course, I didn't realize this until I hit junior high XD

    I don't think being Italian is boring! Talk about a rich family background!

    @Lead The Way Thanks :)

    @Aria You're so persistent in your writing that I can't imagine you NOT being a writer. And hopefully I can figure out more once I have a different perspective.

    @Em Haha, I feel like we had opposite childhoods! All my friends were white (and mainly boys) and I wished I was like them.

    @Ash It's really reassuring to hear you say that. I'm grateful that you said what you did because it made me feel less stressed about choices that I've been struggling with.

    The only thing I'm worried about is getting lost in my job to the point where I don't even know what I'd like my hobby or dream job to be... I don't know. You're right though. A job shouldn't define you as much as your actions should, but I can't help but feel that a vast majority of people end up being defined by their profession.

  7. I love the manner of how you write things. You're actually good at it. So why not try being a writer? :) I know what you mean, I ended up having to shift to a different course cause I realized it just recently that I don't want to end up doing office works that I really don't feel passionate about. Sort your thoughts out then try picturing yourself doing the job that you've thought about for the rest of your life. One day, you'll just wake up finding out what works the best for you. Best wishes :) And oh, it's quite good knowing that you're a fellow Filipina.

  8. You write very well :)

    I used to get made fun of as a kid because I wasn't Greek. (I grew up in a Greek community). It's weird, what people think is worth quarreling over, and pointing out.

    Also, here's my two-cents worth on careers: do what you have a talent for, and what you love. Don't worry about the fact that you'll be labeled by your career choice. While yes, out in the world people will define you by what you do, remember that YOU define who you ARE. Regardless of what you do, you're still you. While the outside world may define you by what you do for a living it isn't, in truth, what defines you. Your personality, the people you love, the things that make you laugh and cry, that stuff defines you.
    Do what you love, do what you have a talent for, and don't worry about what the outside labels you as. While a lot of the time we may not think we know who we are, while we all go through our identity crises, in the end, we are the ones who know and ultimately shape who we are and what actually defines us. Not the outside world.

    I apologize, my first ever comment on your blog seems to be a novella. I promise I don't always make comments this large. Only when something really interests me and makes me think!

    Also, thank you for visiting my blog. It's always nice crossing paths with new bloggers.

  9. @Amy Actually, I really enjoy reading long comments! Thank you for your input, what you said was very comforting.

  10. @Gianella Thanks for the advice :)

  11. Really, people who are too rude to either ask in private or realize that they don't know you well enough to be allowed to ask should be punched. Hard.