Living a Double Life

I live a double life that many minorities live when they’re trying to have a better life. In college, I talk about professionalism when, at home, the people in my neighborhood earn their living by doing nails, cleaning houses and working at the nearby grocery store.

I have one set of friends who grew up in dysfunctional homes and who people think are on welfare when actually they aren’t. And I have another set of friends who shop at J.Crew and spout about how when they leave college, they don’t want to pay a dime for those who don’t work.

By being in the middle, I receive two different reactions: one set of friends who says that they’re proud of me and that they aspire to be like me, and another who says I’m the rare Asian who can speak and write English really well.

There’s an emotional consequence to all of this for me, and a lot of it has to deal with living up to expectations.

Over time, I’ve grown to have anxiety. The crippling disease that makes me second-guess myself and reminds me that after all this work I don’t have a group I actually belong to. And that makes me feel very lonely.

My anxiety has made me become critical of myself to the point that I internalize failure and spend days thinking about it. Other people wouldn’t have screwed up the way I have.

Unhelpful, one set of friends says, “I don’t see the big deal;” and the other says, “How could you have not known?”

Every day before class and before I head into the office of a globally well-known PR agency, I put on a happy face and exude the confidence that I want people to see me have. I get A’s, answer questions in a way that show I read the readings, edit material heavily and deliver results in a timely manner. You would never know where I came from.

But deep down inside, I struggle in this small, unreachable, empty space.