As a Chinese person living in Australia, defining who I am as an Asian Australian has always been tough. If you come from a mixed family or have moved around quite a bit, you might feel this way too.
Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, my fair-haired Caucasian classmates teased my brown eyes in the playground. These days, walking around Melbourne, I get asked “Where are you from?” a fair bit. And at home, I get nagged at by my parents for not having studied science or law at university. As Asian Australians, we ask ourselves: Where do we fit in? Where do we belong?
Yet I no longer hate myself for being “too white to be Asian and too Asian to be Australian”. Living in multicultural Melbourne for almost a decade, I realise there are signs telling us it’s okay not to fit in – because we’re all different.
Standing in front of a bunch of people you don’t know. Feeling like a million pairs of eyes locked on you. Forehead sweaty, palms shaky. Speaking to an audience we’ve never met, or even to a group of friends, can be scary if we’re not too confident at public speaking.
Recently I got interviewed on a radio podcast on SYN 90.7FM and talked about the Asian entertainment scene in Australia (radio is public speaking – talking to an audience you can’t see, but can feel…). Although this podcast was edited, I thought it didn’t go too bad as I did string coherent sentences together. But I was never this eloquent speech-wise. As a kid, I always stuttered when I gave presentations in front of the class.
When it comes to work, a lot of Asians are fast and efficient. Sometimes scarily fast and efficient (when compared to others). It’s like a super power that some of us have.
I’m a fast worker. Part of my job at work involves processing: I stamp application forms and divide them into batches of 100, which takes me around five minutes per batch. But that’s not as fast as my Asian colleague, and let’s call her Mandy. Watching Mandy grab a stack of papers, flick the papers up by their corners and count each one until the 100th one in a matter of twenty seconds is like watching a magic show – the papers flick up in a blur, actually disappearing for a second.
Maybe some of us Asians do things fast because we want to be first, first to cross the finish line. Coming out on top and getting titles and rewards is admired in Asian cultures. When I was younger, my parents nagged at me to finish all my homework as soon as I got home from school so I could start the next set of questions in the maths revision books. I did that, because back then I naively thought keeping ahead of the pack made us truly happy.
We’re all of different heights. Some of us are short. Some of us are tall. In general, many Asians are shorter than people from other cultures.
I’ve been short all my life. At school and university in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, I was the shortest kid in my classes. Today, as a grown Asian adult at 148cm tall (4’10 ft), I see many people taller than me wherever I go.
There isn’t yet a conclusive study done that scientifically explains why many Asians are short compared to other races. So we can only guess why. Maybe some of us Asians are short because it runs in the family, because of genetics. Most of my Chinese-Malaysian relatives are not much taller than 175cm (5’8 ft) and only a handful of them tower vertically above this height.
A lot of the time blogging is a challenge, even for bloggers who have been blogging for a while. We all blog about different topics and blog for different reasons. But what we have in common as bloggers is sharing stories on our blogs – and so much effort goes into it.
This is the 100th post that I’ve written for this blog, excluding reblogs. Next week marks two years since I’ve started this blog, this blog about Asian cultures and being Asian Australian. It has been a bumpy blogging road and as writer Jeff Goins said, “All things creative are hard. Blogging is just one of many”.
When it’s a nice day outside, it’s a sign for us to stop blogging, get outdoors and enjoy the finer things in life. Flinders St Station | Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs.
There can be days when we simply don’t know what to blog about or don’t feel inspired to blog. Maybe we feel like we’ve run out of stories to fit the theme of our blogs. Blogging about something we don’t often think about tends to get ideas flowing, keeping us motivated. Early this year I felt like I had written all I could about being a cultural outcast and racism, having written a lot about these topics over the previous year. After some thinking, I asked myself: why not look at what it means to be Asian every, single, day?