Have you ever heard of the phrase impostor syndrome? The one where you feel like you’re faking something and people would be upset with you if they knew the truth? It’s common, especially when someone starts a new career. When I first became a nurse, I felt like I didn’t know anything, and that people would get upset with me if they realized how little I knew.
Sometimes I feel that way about being Asian too. I look the part, there’s no denying it. I’m petite, with dark hair and dark eyes.
But there’s so many things that I can’t rely on genes for. So many things that makes me feel like I’m not as Asian as people think. Yes, I play the piano, and I skipped a grade or two of math. Yes, I took advanced classes in high school, and speak two languages. But none of that has to do with being Asian. It has to do with my parents and how they raised me. Many of my cousins, ones who are definitely not Asian have accomplished the same feat.
Then I look at the things I can’t do. I’m absolutely useless with chopped sticks. My second language isn’t Japanese, it’s Spanish. I can’t code, and my Bolivian husband is the one who deals with electronics.
Except are those Asian things? Or just stereotypes? It’s hard to know.
I recently had a conversation with someone over twitter, one that really got me thinking. She said that when people ask her, she says that she’s Asian and makes them ask why she doesn’t consider herself an American. I’m the opposite. I tell them I’m an American, and most of them ask why not Asian.
But then there are days when I feel more Asian than American. It’s nice that there’s the option for both. I’m an Asian-American.