happy ten year anniversary
It’s been almost a decade since I moved here to the glorious USA. At age thirteen, I moved to a suburban city in South Florida. And yeah, it could have been just a really long trip, except mom and dad stayed home in Seoul, making the journey a much bolder decision. Fortunately, my parents found me lovable and didn’t send me to the swamp to be raised by some alligators. In fact, this was all my doing, mainly planned out with naiveté and impulsive adventurousness. Middle school is a rough time for all, but not being able to communicate freely made things more challenging for me. A solid two years in junior high — an educational stage that I had no idea existed— were spent in confusion and silence, since real-life English was nothing like what my textbooks had prepared me for. Everything in my life, like my family, friends, and good stuff like knowing what the hell I was supposed to do, I had left on the other side of the Pacific. However, I think what made me so perseverant throughout this transitional period was the fact that there was no chance to back out of my own decision that involved so much sacrifice, both from myself and in particular from my family. Things turned around as I entered high school, when my English had improved tremendously because I was surrounded by 0 people who spoke my native tongue. I was essentially forced to speak English if I wanted to find someone to sit with at lunch, and eating alone was an unforgivable sin for young teenagers. I did everything to fit in at my Jewish-Episcopalian Boca Raton high school, from hanging out at malls to watching high quality MTV shows like Teen Mom. Even before I knew it, my lifestyle resembled everyone else’s, and I was so comfortable in my new place. I could talk for hours about anything to anyone because OMG, we had so much in common, and witty things like sarcasm started to come along pretty naturally. I think I was kind of cool. People liked me, I won class rep, and I even had an American boyfriend (!!!) It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I hopped off my cloud nine, when thecommonapp.org hit me with questions on things like my identity, core values, and roots. Oh. I didn’t know. I couldn’t even remember the last time I thought about my cultural background, because K-Pop was weird and my AP U.S. History teacher told me the Korean War wouldn’t be on the exam. That summer, I went home and talked to my parents for the first time about who I believed myself to be. I revisited and asked myself what I enjoyed as an individual and not what I wanted to be seen as. Then I remembered I really like doing art, being outgoing, learning languages, talking talking and talking to people, making meaningful relationships, and so on. All these things that enriched my personal development were put aside so that I could look and act like others. This realization led to self-awareness and reliance, without having the need to fabricate a sense of belongingness. I am in a perfect in-between, where I can let my worlds freely blend and collide and evolve.