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Awareness, Identification with Oneself as a Separate Individual

Mai Schubert

As kids, we are taught to be scared of the monsters under the bed and in our closets, but the biggest monsters are the labels we assign ourselves.

Before I was really exposed to the world, my world was fairly small. I didn’t realize I looked different from my parents; I didn’t understand what it meant “not being biologically related” to my parents. No one told me there was this visual label people have: race.

I didn’t understand the word “different.” I didn’t have anyone to compare myself to.

My mother, who’s white, tried very hard to incorporate me into a community that would accept and help me appreciate my Chinese identity and adoption. I took Chinese language lessons with her, but she came away knowing Mandarin children’s songs. I only took away climbing skills, as I hid in her clothes during the classes.

Then, I started elementary school; I was one of three kids that didn’t have white skin. Everyone around me was white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and so were the celebrities I looked up to: Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift. I too tried to be white, wearing a blonde wig while attempting to sing along to their tunes. Suddenly, I saw being different not as a good thing, and I felt like an outcast.

It wasn’t until I was fourteen, I realized there are different ways to express who I am. I realized it when I learned more about the LGBTQ+ community, thanks to my middle school. I learned there can be more than one way to define myself. I can have multiple identities, and they can change as I come to understand more about myself.

Throughout the years, I worried about my “image” to others. I was scared they wouldn’t like me because of who I am: my loud personality and rambling to seem like I know what I’m talking about. Mostly, I am scared of the judgement I feel is coming towards me.

"I came up with standards that no one, but myself, held. I wanted to be perfect, so I didn’t draw attention to myself."

The strictest critics are ourselves. I came up with standards that no one, but myself, held. I wanted to be perfect, so I didn’t draw attention to myself. Following my logic, people wouldn’t see me and start to judge me on my personality, my interests, my family, everything that could possibly be slightly perceived as “weird” or “awkward.”

No one notices how strict we are, because they are preoccupied criticizing themselves. It’s all right to be “different,” and it should be celebrated.


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