This is not a blog post

By adrianserghie at deviantART

It’s been a while since I wrote something up here. I think I had the blogging itch for about two weeks, and then I was back to writing in my physical journal. But I want to be better at updating this thing (she says, echoing the countless other times she has said this on other blogs).

However, in order to do that, I should probably have something I want to say and share with others. That’s the whole point of a public blog, right?

For a while I was posting about my own life experiences, but that puts me in a situation where I have a finite amount of material – and then these posts inadvertently began to resemble pieces of advice. Upon noticing this, I began to feel uncomfortable. Am I qualified to make those judgements and dispense advice? I mean, what do I really know about the world? Continue reading “This is not a blog post”

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It’s time to come together

I was never a cool Asian.

I mean, to be fair, I wasn’t really anything in high school, aside from being that quiet, short-haired girl who wore a lot of My Chemical Romance merchandise.

Justher, circa 2006. That dye job, though.

I moved to a new town just as I was starting high school. To make a long story short, it was rough. It was during high school that I first learned about the superficial drive to achieve; the idea of striving for “excellence” not because of any observable, palpable personal desire, but because it would help pad college applications (and other post-high school endeavors). And while I realize now that this is what so many of us do to survive, it’s important to note that for someone as wide-eyed and idealistic as me, learning about this fact of life was heartbreaking.  This, paired with the common insecurities that take root during adolescence (Do people like me? How can I be accepted?) – it was not a good combination.

And so began my quest for authenticity.

It wasn’t until college that I was able to look at myself in the mirror and make a conscious effort to love myself – breakouts, eyelid creases, dress size and all. It wasn’t until college that I had a chance to learn about all of these different aspects of my identity. All of this led me to learning about feminism. I frequented the Women’s Resource Center and went to Body Positive meetings throughout my sophomore year of college. I talked with my friends about the representation of women in film and television. It was as though my eyes were open for the first time and I was suddenly much more receptive to my community. I had found a community.

And yet there was still something missing. I could see it in my name (first and last), the sounds of home, the foods that brought me the most comfort… all of that was a constant reminder of what still needed to be addressed, the question that was there all along: Who am I as a Filipino American? Continue reading “It’s time to come together”

On stars, stripes, and dreams

I'm Uncle Sam, That's Who I Am
Photo by Chicago Man on Flickr

[Note: This post has been sitting in my drafts since June, but I figured it needed to be posted, so I finished it up today]

I recently read an article (on Yahoo! News of all places) about the American dream being a myth. I feel that this is undoubtedly true, but perhaps not in the way most people would expect. A myth is a grand narrative; it’s something that people structure their actions around and hope to replicate in their own lives. We’ve all heard variations of the American dream, and all of them basically boil down to this: If you work hard, you can make it to the top.

If we want to talk about the American dream being a myth – about the Dream being a grand narrative that many of us structure our lives around – then yes, this is extremely true. We’re reminded in the way President Obama speaks about America:

And we thought about how far we had come, and the fact that our lives were a testament to that fundamental American ideal that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, America is a place where you can make it if you try. America is a place where you can make it if you try. [source]

But perhaps it’s time to realize the systems that are stacked against us. From the color of our skin to our income bracket to where we grew up… so much of our success can only be attributed to luck and being in the right place at the right time. It’s at that point that we realize that the myth, that the grand narrative isn’t a one-size fits all deal.

I’m not saying not to dream. I’m saying that the myth is so beautiful and we find it hard to see anything else.

This idea of dreaming big, of being able to go from rags to riches – it permeates our media. Look at all of the talent competitions that are currently on the air. Look at the wide eyes of the contestants who hope that they will be the next ones to make it big. And it’s great, and you want to root for them, you want them to move out of their one-bedroom apartment and sell out arenas because they’ve worked so hard, you know?

The same can be said for students who enter higher education.

What happens when you put your all into a system that doesn’t truly look out for everyone’s well-being? What happens when some have access to more resources than others?

Maybe it’s time to rewrite the narrative.