I’m going to start this post by saying that I do not intend to offend anyone and that this is my own opinion of my own life.
I am Korean. I was born in Korea and my parents are Korean and I speak Korean. I am Korean. Just incase you guys were wondering.
However, I wasn’t raised in Korea. I wasn’t even raised in the U.S. I was raised in a small, Middle Eastern country called Qatar. I spent the majority of my life being confused about who I am. I’m actually always confused about everything. It’s kind of the theme of my life. Anyways, I can’t even say that I’m Asian-American because I’m not. The more I think about it, the more I realize how foreign the American culture is to me. I mean one time I heard people talking about green and purple ketchup and I was like “Excuse me, what?” That sounds so gross, I do not care if it tasted the same as red ketchup or that it was fun and cool. It’s weird. It forever will be weird to me and I’m glad it never caught on. So yeah, I wasn’t in this country for all of these little fads and whatever. Like American Girl dolls, when I told people I had no idea what in the name of Buddha that was, they looked at me like I was crazy. I looked at them like they were crazy and we just stood there looking at each other like the other was crazy. It was a crazy stare off. It was crazy. Also I think dolls are creepy. Even if I was in the States when I was young, I wouldn’t buy them. I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that those things come alive and kill people in the dead of night and I ain’t about to be killed by no creepy ass dolls. If I go, I’m gonna go by an epic battle between me and a dinosaur. So yeah, I’m not completely familiar with the American culture nor am I familiar with the Korean culture. I grew up watching Pokemon, Scooby Doo, Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Korean shows. I grew up reading Harry Potter and Korean comic books. So yeah I didn’t know what to call myself for a very long time.
But I am Korean. I will always be Korean. I can pretend to be anything else on the inside but on the outside I will always be Korean to everyone. I was never aware of my race until I got to 7th grade. I mean I always knew I was different, kids would tease me about looking different but I just thought I looked different but didn’t think I was a different race. I didn’t look like the other kids and I didn’t live like the other kids. I didn’t talk like the other kids and I didn’t eat like the other kids. I was finally able to classify myself as Asian and from then on I wore that label on my forehead. I legit wanted to be Lizzie McGuire when I was younger. I also legit thought I could turn into Lizzie McGuire so you can see much it rocked my world when I realized I could never be Lizzie McGuire. If I could be anyone, it would be London Tipton and I am not going to be London Tipton.
But I was labeled. I had to be smart, good at math, eat weird food, not be able to drive, become a doctor, have parents that owned a dry cleaning place, be a master at martial arts and etc etc. First of all, I hate math. I cannot stand math. I’m an English major, not Pre-Med, I want to be a writer, not a doctor. I am not smart, I do the best I can in my academics but I’m far from smart. I do eat weird food but it’s only weird to you because you don’t know what it is. I mean some American food is weird to Koreans. I might love kimchi and rice but I also love chicken nuggets and spaghetti. I am never picky with food, I love me some food. Mmmm, food. Now I’m hungry, well I’m always hungry. My parents also don’t own a dry cleaning place, they actually own an American burger place. Let that one sink in. Also my dad used to be the manager of a bakery in Qatar. I have a very strange life. Also I am terrible at driving but not because I’m asian but because I just suck. I could be white and I’d still suck at driving. I also don’t know martial arts, I used to take martial art lessons but I stopped taking it because I sucked. I hate fighting. I am terrible at fighting. I will run away if someone attacks me, actually I wouldn’t run away because I don’t run. I would just lay on the ground and pretend to be dead. I don’t really fit the Asian stereotype. I used to call myself a twinkie, yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Also I don’t get this whole yellow skin thing. I am not yellow. I am a golden brown. I have a perma-tan. I am not yellow. No asian I know is yellow. If I see someone that’s yellow, I would take them to the hospital.
I tried so hard to live up to these stereotypes because if I didn’t, I wasn’t asian but as much as I tried, I couldn’t live up to them. I hated myself for being who I was. I would not be able to look in the mirror for a long time because I wasn’t like the others, because I was different. I used to get so offended and mad when people would make a joke about me. I left so belittled and less of a person. I didn’t know what I was then I realized I don’t have to be anything. I am just me. I am my own breed. I might be labeled but I didn’t have to be what people labeled me. I was just Jonny. I didn’t have to be smart, I just had to try my best. I didn’t have to become a doctor if I didn’t want to, I could be whatever I wanted to be as long as I dedicated myself to it. I mean I tell asian jokes and I make fun of myself all the time. I don’t care if people ask me “So like what are you?” or “Where are you from when you not from here?” I know what they are trying to ask so I just tell them. It’s really not a big deal. It does annoy me a little when people ask if I’m from South Korea or North Korea. Then they try to justify that question by saying something like “Yeah I know you can’t get out of North Korea but I mean you could’ve like escaped or something, you know?” Why do people continue to be stupid? This only annoys me because of how uneducated the person is. Really? Watch the news once in a while or pay attention in class. I really am not as interesting as people think I am. I did not escape out of an oppressive country with only a few things in my worn out backpack. I didn’t carry my parents on my back as I crossed the border into freedom that is South Korea. I simply got a visa and a plane ticket and moved here. My life is actually really boring. There was some weird and strange things about my life but I’m really not that interesting.
I am all about equal rights and getting rid of racism. I am very passionate about people being treated like equals. I hate it when someone treats someone else less than human because of something they cannot control. I am all about fighting for justice and stuff like that.
But I am not going to let small minded people offend me. I am not going to let stereotypes define me. I am my own person. I don’t have to be asian or american. I can’t help what I look like on the outside but I can be whomever I want to be on the inside. I’m not saying this to make people walk on eggshells around me. I’m saying this so that I don’t let things like that offend me so go ahead and joke around about my race, I don’t care. I only care if you intend to do it to hurt people, to make them feel like less of a human being. I will only get angry if you say things like that because you believe you are better than them.
So when your friends make a joke about how small your eyes are or what kind of food you should like, just laugh it off. It’s not you, it’s them. Just know that you are better than a stereotype, you are your own person, you define yourself. You are whomever you want to be. Don’t let stupid comments break down who you are. Don’t let small minded people get into your head. Just accept yourself as undefinable to society. Be different. I’ve learned to let go of the anger and hatred. I learned to laugh at myself and I think that’s an important part in life, to be able to laugh at yourself, to be comfortable enough with yourself that little comments don’t hurt you anymore. I am a very weird person, I am super awkward and strange all the time. I don’t mind it. It’s just who I am. I am proud of my heritage and my nationality. I am proud to know two different languages. I love Korea, Qatar and America. I love where I am from and where I am now. It might’ve taken a long time to get here and there might still be parts of me that are trying to accept who I am but I want you to know that it’s not easy but it’s possible. Just be happy with who you are and your little quirks. Just accept yourself for not being perfect. Perfection is boring anyways. I love who you are and you should too. I don’t love you because I think you are perfect and there’s nothing wrong with you, I love you because you are different, you have flaws and you make mistakes. I love you because you’re human and you aren’t a stereotype. I love you for who you are not who they think you should be. As cheesy as this is, I love you for you. I just hope that you will love me in the same way too.
But seriously, look how disgusting these fries look with purple ketchup. Why would you ever be excited about this?