I'm 37 years-old.
For a large part of my life, I struggled with being Asian. Everything about it bothered me. I cringed at inviting my friends into being a part of my family. Not my nuclear one. Actually, never my nuclear one. But definitely the rest. I remember being both embarrassed and resentful of what my Asian relatives thought, believed, and said. I always felt that my relatives perpetuated a stereotype that I hated. Not that I was not brought up to fit that stereotype. I just hated that they had to basically throw it in my face. Or at least, I felt like they were.
Speaking of my face, I really did not like the way I looked. As a youth, I was overweight. I had this pudgy Asian look that I could not accept. I knew I wanted to do something about it. I wasn't sure what but I had to do something. Maybe get my nose done.
When I went college, I ended up living in the International Dorm. Which was populated mostly by Asians. I also majored in Electrical Engineering. Which was populated by Asians. And I belonged to the South East Asian Student Association. Which was populated by... Asians. I think part of me was trying to find an alternative to what my relatives represented. I did. But I still felt that there was this underlying mentality that I could not escape. Unless...
When I got out of college (with my Electrical Engineering Degree, pleasing my Asian relatives), I basically removed myself from being around mostly Asians. I felt that I needed to be around others with different ways of thinking. I kept in touch with a few college friends. Mostly the non-Asians. Actually, only two were Asian. And now they are married to each other. I actually set them up, inadvertently. But, I digress...
Anyway, out of college, I hung out with everyone else except Asians. I did my best to be around non-Asians. I look back now and find it silly. Silly that I would put so much effort into being that way. There were times when I would be the only Asian in the group. Actually, I remember many times when I would be the only non-Caucasian. That's what happens when you become part of the circuit party... um, circuit. Thankfully, I no longer am.
I am not sure where I turned the corner. Maybe it is all part of becoming a mature person. Maybe as you get older you can't be bothered by all the limitations or expectations you placed on yourself as a youth. Maybe it's because I have been in a nurturing relationship with a man who has taught me to enjoy people for who and what they are. I still find some of my relatives expectations ridiculous. But I no longer associate those expectations with being Asian. Because, according to my friend, Jews are the same way. But I digress again.
The other day, I was shaving. As I looked in the mirror, this different feeling came over me. I realized that I have not felt resentment for being Asian. I have not resented the slanted eyes or the non-pointed nose. I don't even remember the last time I felt "embarrassed" about being Asian. I felt proud of what I looked like. I felt proud of what I felt like. I felt proud of being Asian. Okay. Proud may be a strong word. But, I did feel good about what I saw in the mirror. A mature Asian man who no longer feels less for being that. Not bad, eh? Later.