You Are Not Your Identity.
To the misfits who feel they have no identity. You’re right. You don’t. Welcome to the club.
So Are You Chinese? How About Japanese?
I waited at the bus stop as a tall man in a cowboy hat stared at me with squinted eyes. In an attempt of pleasantries, I let out a light smile as he accompanied his wife by his side.
But as he walked by, staring at me with unreadable eyes, he suddenly jerked his head toward me and murmured with a tone of disgust:
No words can describe the emotions reeling through my mind. My heart pounded as I heard the man yell these words across the bus station in front of other passersby.
I’d been called other derogatory Asian words before, but they never quite hurt like the sting of the words of the man in the cowboy hat. Being mistaken for Japanese wasn’t the problem. It’s not even something that should ever be insulting. But how he said it… he made it sound derogatory.
Logically, my mind should have turned to Hulk mode, but instead of anger, I was overcome with confusion and disbelief. While I tried to coax myself that the words didn’t matter — that he simply commented from misconceptions from childhood growing up, and a vast array of other rationalizations — to say I didn’t take it personally would be a lie.
My heart hurt and as much as I hoped that my face didn’t turn red, my face probably looked like a tomato by that time.
I stood frozen.
The feeling was unreal.
It wasn’t the fact that he mistook my identity.
It wasn’t the fact that he didn’t ask what my ethnicity was…
It wasn’t the fact that he didn’t bother to greet me or smile back.
What bothered me is that he objectified me.
He labeled me.
I felt like an alien with a third eye growing from my forehead.
I felt ugly. Grotesque.
I was at a loss of what I should do. My mouth was open as he and his wife walked by. Then. I entered on to the bus.
You Never Change What You Tolerate
Here’s the news flash:
We will never change what we tolerate.
You have probably heard this saying before. It applies in all areas of life — from self-love to success to people.
At the moment, I couldn’t comprehend the ignorance behind one misconception of being called “japonesa”. But reflecting back, it made me realize something.
I could attempt to run my mouth — but that wouldn’t work.
I could try to give a history lesson and a lecture on why racism is bad— but that wouldn’t work either.
I could attempt everything and anything to try to “educate” a person to change their mindset, but even then, that is equally pointless.
In the end…it. doesn’t. really. matter.
Because one person putting you in the confines of a box of lies does not make you who you are.
People will believe what they want to believe.
A Box of Lies . . .
You Are More Than An Identity
On a more uplifting note:
We could have been born rich or poor.
We could have made several mistakes and went down a dark path.
But identity is not fixed.
What we choose to do today — moment-to-moment is what defines who we really are.
You are not your identity.
*Breathes out sigh of relief*
Now with that out of the way, this is who you really are…
You Are Whoever You Want To Be
Stop limiting yourself to a label, a brand, a box…
What I learned from the encounter with the man in the cowboy hat is this:
People who are willing to learn, will learn. They will shift their lens of how they see the world through authentic interactions and a growth mindset. But this takes time. Words, explanations, and lectures won’t work.
People who choose to navigate life through a narrow lens just have to learn the hard way sometimes. And you know what? That’s fine.
Because at the end of the day, we should just focus on growing, learning, and sharing our insights with others…
But there is something much more important than all of the above.
There is something that can at least move people toward the direction to an open heart.
There is only one, single way:
To show and share love.
It’s cliche, but the world needs more love. It’s the only driving force that can change one’s mindset and inner world.
So the next time, I see a person who attempts to use a label on me or on others, I’ll remember what matters most. Love.
lowercase love. Uppercase Love. CAPS LOCK LOVE.
Love multiplied by x.
The moment we stop dividing ourselves based on culture, race, color… is the moment we will realize.
We make up one culture. One culture built on Love.
We need to blur those color, race, social status, and division lines and make them a mural of blended watercolors.
Do it for love.
This Is Your Identity
Growing up, I sought in vain to find my identity, my roots, my culture.
As time went by, being judged and stereotyped, I eventually stopped caring about identity, and just embraced who I am as a person — not an identity.
I come from a mixed background of second-family of nanas and novelas, nomadic ancestors from several centuries ago, a polyglot Swedish — rooted grandpa who traveled the world, and my amazing parents who blurred the lines of what it means to be Thai and American at the same time.
Even all of that is not my identity.
Bottom line:It doesn’t matter where you come from. There is something even more important.
Our heritage — our roots — are all built on Love. This is true identity and there is no better identity than this.
With love. ❤