Straight Outta Does it Matter?

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I come from Los Angeles, California where the skies are blue most days out of the year and where going to the beach is almost always an option. I come from a city where very few family members reside besides my parents and brother. I come from a place where you turn 21 the second you get a fake ID- even if you’re actually 15 at the time. I come from a place where religion, race, ethnicity, and sexual preference doesn’t place you on the margins of what might normally be the dominant “we” society. I come from a place with unlimited resources and a place where my choice and voice matter. I come from a place where I can be who I want to be, go where I want to go, and live the way I want to live.

Have you ever felt as if the people in your life don’t truly understand what makes you, you? Have you ever felt pressured into being somebody you’re not? Have you ever felt as if something inside of your soul is just itching to be released but you don’t feel the support from your family or peers to let it out?

A Filipino man once approached my cousin and I on the street for money because he thought we were “his people” based on how we looked: Dark hair, tan skin, Asian eyes, etc… After this, my cousin told me to “never forget where you come from” especially when it came to supporting other people like us. That statement baffled me because my cousin and I are Chinese- not Filipino- and there is no definitive answer to where I’ve come from. It seemed as if because he came from the same side of the world as my ancestors, I should have felt more inclined than usual to help this man; but to me, I felt compassion towards him because he was a human being that was struggling- not because he was an Asian person that was struggling.

My cousin meant that I should always stay close to my Chinese family and to find support and comfort from my family, first. To me, she and I don’t come from the same place. We weren’t even raised in the same city. Of course, I appreciate the hard work and struggle that my grandparents experienced to support their family in America, but I appreciate anybody’s efforts to survive, grow, and heal (no matter the color of his or her skin). As close as I am to my family, even extended family, I find my safety and comfort in the network of people that have gone through the same experiences and have the same interests as me, not necessarily the same blood or surname.

Although my family supports and loves me more than anything, I find security, strength, and love from other people in 12-step-programs who understand the way I think, survivors of sexual assault who feel the way I feel, my coworkers who have the same drive and passion that I have, other native Los Angelinos who see the city the way I see it, and classmates that have the same curiosity on subjects as I do. Each of these types of characters in my life motivates me to grow and to become a better version of myself each and every day. Honestly, more so than many of the relatives that I have that I’ve only met a handful of times.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to shine and be fulfilled in places and with people outside of what the general population might want for you (aka your family). Find out who you are through the network of people that are in your life and learn from them the same ways they might learn from you. For me, it’s okay to have different morals, values, and opinions than the people that brought me into this world. When I become aware of what makes me who I am, I realize that the people who further my growth as a unique individual are the ones worthy of being let into my heart and soul, fully.

In my cousins’ defense, once I explained to her my thoughts and attitude on this, she was nothing but loving, supportive, and compassionate towards me. I’m incredibly lucky to have a family that will bolster my ideas and development no matter if it goes against what they initially might have wanted for me.

Stop living in fear and let your freak flag fly, because you never know who will surprise you and how happy you might become when you add the missing pieces to the puzzle that is you. Everyday, I try to work on this aspect of my life and it has never failed me. I become myself more and more each day without anybody or anything stopping me.

Never forget where you come from that has made you the person you are today.

 

Lara


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