Meditations on Being Asian

Floreta and I met through the 20-Something Bloggers group, and I was instantly captivated by her way with words and images. (Also her little panda logo is pretty cute!) She’s a poetess, and such a bold and free spirit. She’s not afraid to be a strong woman, nor to bare her softer side.

I’m so excited to have such a smart, sassy, talented girl guest blogging for me. Thanks, Floreta!

I am a first generational immigrant to the United States. My mom and me moved from the Philippines to the Pacific Northwest when I was only three and I have lived here ever since. Living in predominantly white suburbs all my life, I have had the unique experience of growing up “white” in brown (yellow?) skin. At first, it was tough because I didn’t lose my accent until about the 5th or 6th grade. Generally, I didn’t encounter much hatred or racism towards myself that I was aware of. I would think of myself as an American, and even though I knew I was Asian, I thought and viewed the world from a “white” Caucasian lens. I was (and perhaps still am) a white Asian.

There was an extended period in my life where I hated being Asian. I hated where I came from. I hated being Filipino or Filipino-American. Why? I’m not sure exactly. Perhaps it has something to do with Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Simply put, I wanted to be white and beautiful. I wanted blonde hair, and blue eyes. I wanted to be taller. I wanted to be someone I’m not. I truly thought I was ugly and felt deeply ashamed of my heritage. Even though I have a different nose than most Filipinos, I hated the way my ethnicities flat-nose looked like and being associated with it. I hated my chinky eyes. I hated the way the language and intonations sounded like. I hated the loud, boisterous tsismis gossip. I hated the gold bling jewelry and potlucks. I hated it all.

Not surprisingly, this coincided with the pre-teen/early teenage angst years, and somewhere along the way, I began to bridge gaps and be proud of who I was and where I came from, without being ethnocentric. All the things I hated turned into things that I loved and embraced about myself and my culture as I realized this served as part of my uniqueness and personal experience. This was my history and where I came from. I realized that I should embrace it, not hide it.

Lately, I have been wanting to bridge more gaps and come back home. I mean home to my island. Cebu. I have not been back in six years. I want to watch my cousins grow up, or at least be a part of their lives, so that they can know who I am. I want to become fluent again, since I was too young to remember the language once I learned English in less than a year. I want to become more Asian. Even though this would be a boldly brave move of independence, I want to experience the sense of community that comes with Asian culture rather than the American Rugged Independence that is such a paradigm here. Most importantly, I just want a change, and change of pace and to be able to travel Asia and journey to self-discovery. I am writing it here, now, so I can commit it in writing, on digitalized computer screen. I am scared. Scared shitless of making giant leaps. Scared of taking action. Scared of making a commitment. Scared of a lot of things. But the time has come to take risks and blossom, rather than remain tight in a bud. I don’t know how or why, but I have a strong feeling and intuition that this needs to be my next step. Everything will work itself out as long as I start the momentum. It is that start that I have a hard time with.

This is me trying for momentum.
All that I say and think should not be for nothing.
Momentum has to shift and action has to take place.

Step 1: Commitment
Step 2: Research
Step 3: Visa application
Step 4: Apply for jobs/ Get interviews set
Step 5: Sell/move my Stuff
Step 6: Purchase one-way ticket
Step 7: Pack
Step 8: Get on plane

Or something like that.

Is it really that easy?

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16 Comments

  1. Aisha

    Cool, what kind of job were you thinking of getting?

    Nice post, by the way :)

  2. Congratulations with this guest post Floreta! Wow! You are already influential with exposures here and there.

    More power to you and to solitarypanda.

    @Kristan you got good taste in choosing floreta.

    Z

    • Zorlone’s recent blog post: WOOF Contest – Top Picks for June 19

  3. I’m sure the journey will be life changing for you.

    My husband is Chinese, Filipino, Spanish, and Portuguese. Our neighborhood is predominantly Filipino. And our son came out looking mostly white (husband’s spanish grandfather was from Northern Spain and blond/blue eyed). Our son has dealt with a lot of ethnic identiy issues. Still is.

    • Pseudo’s recent blog post: In Ohio Today..

  4. ero

    AND through it all continue to blog, blog, blog . . .

    beautifully expressed, Floreta. we truly relate.

    ..
    .ero

    • ero’s recent blog post: c’ya in September

  5. Great post floreta! I have a similar experience when it comes to growing up in a white neighborhood with brown skin. I didn’t lose my accent until 6th grade, and to be honest, I LIKE it when my accent comes out now, though I was ashamed of it back then. It’s amazing how times change.

    • Kat Argonza’s recent blog post: “I’m responsible”

  6. nashe

    It can be sad to go back and see all your cousins all grown up and stuff, eh? But I’m sure catching up will be fun :)

    • nashe’s recent blog post: Throughout KL

  7. First of… Great choice on choosing Floreta to guest post and for sharing this with us!

    WOW! I didnt know you feel that way…
    Come with me! I am going this end of the year!

    http://www.mrszeus.blogspot.com

    • Anne’s recent blog post: My Paisley Maxi dress

  8. Floreta, Floreta… Great post. I understand exactly what you mean. I’m mixed; Polish & Congolese. I came to Montreal when I was 8, I speak/understand polish fluently but not with the same ease as I speak french/english. As well, I don’t speak Lingala, nor have much knowledge about the african part of me. This is something I want to explore further, as well. Man, I’d love to go for coffee with you! You’re such an interesting person!

    • Nana’s recent blog post: Hungry Girl: Day 2.

  9. MJ

    That was an amazing post. I hope you do follow through with your journey of self-discovery.

    Those pre-teen years are the worst–not matter what you are you wish you were something different. When I was younger, I was ashamed to be Jewish. I was one of two Jewish kids in my whole town, and I just wanted to not be different. It was stupid. To this day, I regret all the times I allowed someone to say negative things about my people without speaking up.

  10. thank you all for the comments. I find it ironic that my guest post (a “migration” of sorts from my original blog) talks about… well, migrating. how perfect right?

    @ Aisha, I am a graphic designer so I’m hopefully thinking I’d like to get a design job. Print or web.. Though, I wouldn’t mind switching careers to writing.

    • floreta’s recent blog post: Migration

  11. practically it is easy as following your steps.. but emotionally it’s pretty daunting.
    It is such a great idea. I hope your persue it.

    Can’t wait to see the pictures and read your stories!

    Great blog Kristan!!

    • Als Simmons’s recent blog post: Day Three – Ticking of the Clock

  12. I love the sentiments in this post and I agree with you when you say its time to take risks. Go forward and do your thing!! Even if its baby steps, as long as you are committed to change, you will certainly get there. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • Write Gril’s recent blog post: Simply Snicker’s Challenge

  13. my sense is that now that you have written all this down, you are not so scared. You are more excited and embracing your lineage will only add to the life you have made for yourself. You will take all you embrace in this life and it will enhance every bit of who you are. For as I experience you in blogging this is what you do. For me you grow and deepen every moment. To me you are very brave and creative plus talented as well. I feel excited by the things you want for yourself. Wishing you the best, all ways.

    • Tammie’s recent blog post: Beneath Sunlit Waters

  14. Sure, it’s just as easy as that — as long as getting a visa isn’t a problem (which, for that part of the world, I think it’s fairly easy…!)

    Plus, you’ll have some fun stories to write when you get back :)

    • Sebastian’s recent blog post: The blowback 69

  15. @Sebastian – pshhh i’ll have some fun stories to write *while i’m there*. the blog party shouldn’t be over!

    @Tammie – wow, thanks so much for commenting and your encouragement. that means a lot.

    Thanks all.. this is good momentum ;)

    • floreta’s recent blog post: Rejection

  16. Zorlone, Anne & Als-
    Thanks! ;)

    Floreta-
    Ditto what Tammie said. And I can honestly say that I think making that journey would be a life-changing, mind-changing experience that I would envy (in a good way). :)

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