Essay- Self-Identity Story

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For most of my childhood, I grew up immersed in Chinese culture because my parents migrated from Canton, China to the United States. We lived in a small apartment located in the vibrant Chinatown.

Chinatown served as both my residence and my haven for cultivating relationships. It was within this community that I experienced a deep sense of belonging. My interactions with friends and family revolved exclusively around Cantonese communication. Within the confines of Chinatown, everyone shared fluency in Cantonese, including myself; thus, it never occurred to me to engage in any other language. Consequently, I remained detached from the world beyond Chinatown’s borders, perceiving it as my authentic abode.

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Nevertheless, my parents had a contrasting opinion. They desired for me to embrace the “American” culture. They believed that by becoming more “Americanized,” life would improve and my sister and I would achieve greater acceptance. Consequently, my family and I relocated to the Sunset District a decade ago, with the anticipation that this move would facilitate a rapid assimilation into the mainstream – the “American” culture. This assimilation was expected to ultimately transform my values and alter my perspective on my cultural heritage.

When I relocated from Chinatown to the Sunset District, I was amazed by the stark difference in environment compared to my upbringing. The streets were noticeably calmer and less crowded, a sharp contrast to the busy and overcrowded streets of Chinatown that I frequently had to navigate through. One notable distinction that caught my eye was the ethnicity of the children: in the Sunset District, all the children were of Caucasian descent.

Living in Chinatown, I was used to residing in a primarily Asian neighborhood. But when I relocated to Sunset, where there were more Caucasian residents, it became a major adaptation for me. Once I reached my new house, I promptly grasped the idea of assimilation as my parents enrolled me into St.

At Anne’s, a predominantly Caucasian Catholic school, I faced a unique challenge as a quick learner because I needed to learn English. In order to fit in, I made efforts such as purchasing cafeteria food and eating typical American lunches like bologna sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly.

I associated myself with mostly Caucasian friends and joined clubs that were associated with Caucasian people in an attempt to fit in and be accepted. I imitated my friends’ behavior and even persuaded my parents to buy me fashionable clothing and designer labels.

My friends and I had similar haircuts. I started talking like them and behaving like them. I wanted to get rid of my Asian identity, as I despised that aspect of myself.

I desired to assimilate into American culture, believing that if I imitated their behaviors and way of life, I would be embraced even though I wasn’t white. In the fifth grade, a newcomer named Bradford Chin joined my class.

Bradford struck a familiar chord within me, similar to how I was when I initially arrived – conservative, traditional, and incredibly studious. Fueled by my lack of understanding, I experienced a sense of shame in his presence. I feared that his mere existence would serve as a constant reminder of the person I once was. Consequently, I purposefully overlooked and evaded him whenever possible.

During a lunch with my friends, I saw Brad eating one of my favorite Chinese pastries, “Dan-Tat”. The sight of it brought back memories of sitting in a bakery in Chinatown, enjoying the aroma of fresh buns and eating a “Dan-Tat” myself. This nostalgic moment inspired me to pay him a visit.

With caution, I approached him and asked for a portion of the delightful treat, which he gladly gave. We spent the rest of our lunch hour talking and discovered that we have similar interests and admirable character traits. Furthermore, we found out that our parents have similar values and beliefs.

As our bond deepened, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. During my youth, my sole concern was conforming and seeking validation from others, leading me to neglect my authentic identity. It seemed as though I had entirely forsaken my true essence by prioritizing the adoption of my friends’ perspectives rather than remaining faithful to my own values.

My behavior underwent a complete transformation. By releasing my superficial self, I no longer needed to pretend to be someone I was not, instead allowing myself to truly be who I am. I no longer harbored any resentment towards being of Chinese origin, instead fully accepting and embracing my identity.

The most important thing was that I felt content with who I was.

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Essay- Self-Identity Story. (2018, May 07). Retrieved from

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