Being Asian-American in my youth meant that you were different. One of the things that highlighted how different it was to be Asian-American was the fact that I didn’t bring a sandwich for lunch. Instead, I brought my Thermos, filled with rice, vegetables and meat. While my peers thought that I brought strange food, I thought that a sandwich was a rather mundane type of lunch. Why bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday, when you could bring different types of food everyday? My mom made all types of dishes; she cooked delicious garlic steak bites, honey glazed chicken wings, and so much more.
Bringing something different than everyone else made me wonder why I was different. I began to feel left out. For everyone, they could finish their sandwich in ten minutes and go off to play. For me, it took much longer. I’m not sure if it was because I was a slow eater or not, but I felt left out.
Besides having a different lunch, I always knew that I looked different. I remember this boy who showed everyone this trick he could do with his nose. Everyone tried to do this trick, because they thought it was cool. However, I couldn’t do it. The boy told everyone that my nose was too short to do that trick. I was devastated. Why couldn’t I look like everyone else?
As I grew older, I was able to express that I wanted to assimilate into society; I wanted to look the same, eat the same food and get treated the same. I didn’t want to feel left out, as I watched my friends eat their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and do cool nose tricks.
Now, I have a lot of friends who share the same experiences as me. It feels great to have people you can relate with. Now, my mom no longer makes lunches for me. Looking back, I realized that I should’ve been more grateful for my lunches. Now, I eat cafeteria food, just like everyone else. Does that make me feel like I belong? Not at all.
If I could travel back in time, I would’ve told my younger self to embrace my Asian culture. Being different is great. Just because everyone does something, doesn’t mean that it's the best choice. Eventually, there’s going to be a time when you won’t get delicious lunches anymore and eat boring cafeteria food.
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