I’m not like the rest

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I like to think I’m not like the stereotypical Asian. 

Unlike typical stereotypes, I don’t get straight A’s, I’m not extremely short, I don’t speak fluent Chinese, and I don’t play in the orchestra. 

Most people see Asians as brainiacs or music prodigies. I don’t follow either of those stereotypes. I like to think that I am my own person; I’m my own category. 

All my life I have been made fun of for being Chinese; people would come up to me and say rude things about my ethnicity. I don’t think that these people can comprehend how impudent they are when they say things such as “ching chong” to me.

Everyone seems to assume that every Asian can speak fluent Chinese. Despite popular beliefs, I don’t; I only speak English. I took two years of Mandarin Chinese, and I didn’t understand any of it. That was one of the classes I struggled with the most in the past two years. The only reason I actually was able to pass that class was because of my amazing best friend who would help me study. 

Yes, I play an instrument. No, it’s not a string instrument, the flute, or the piano—that’s just another stereotype I’ve been asked about numerous times. Back in eighth grade, I chose the clarinet with the intent of not following standardized categories, which was probably not the best reasoning behind picking an instrument I would be stuck with for at least one whole year. But, after one year, I grew extremely fond of it and still have a passion for it.

As for the straight A’s, I’m not even close to that. I struggle with grades, and I always have. In fact, I have to study extremely hard just to get my average grades.

Despite countless hours spent studying, many sleepless nights, and hundreds of flashcards, I still fall short of my goals.

I’m envious of students who are able to ace tests, classes, quizzes, and even exams without studying. I wish I could do that, but sadly I’m not able to. I have to work day in and day out to get my mediocre grades.

I do, in fact, have a passion for math. It comes easily to me, not because of my ethnicity. I’ve been told that I’m only good at the class due to the fact that I’m Asian when that has nothing to do with it. I just enjoy it, and my ethnicity has nothing to do with it.

I’ve been told innumerable times that I have a “white girl” personality, but I’m stuck in an Asian body.

Until I realized the beauty of my own uniqueness, I wished I wasn’t Asian; I wanted to be a typical blond hair, blue-eyed American girl until one of my closest friends made me realize how amazing it is to be different from everyone else and be my own person.

Once I learned to appreciate how different I am from the stereotypes, which makes me special because I am me, I am not ashamed that I don’t follow all the expectations people make for me.

My ethnicity is a crucial part of who I am, yet stereotypes have no weight on my character; I may be Asian, but I am so much more.