Anywhere but Here
an article by Chris Fong Chew
Dear Asian Youth,
“Anywhere but here,” I would say. My whole life was a sense of restlessness, wanting to be wherever I wasn't, constantly dreaming of escaping to another place. Sometimes, I wonder where this internal driving force came from.
Maybe it's the fact that I tend to be a perfectionist—an idealist. The imperfections in this world drive me to think that the grass must be greener elsewhere.
Maybe it's because, growing up, I felt that I never fit in anywhere. Feeling like a square peg in a round hole, that my very identity was a perpetual foreigner, even to myself.
Sometimes, I think it’s in my blood. Of my ancestors that traveled thousands of miles in the hope of a better life, not knowing what awaited on the other side.
This escapism has driven me across the world, both physically and virtually, dreaming of living on another shore and starting another life. To want to explore every crack and crevice of the earth, to leave no stone unturned.
Yet, I can't exactly place what I am searching for.
My whole life, I have felt as if I don’t belong. Growing up in the U.S., the feeling of being the perpetual foreigner is a constant, gnawing feeling that no matter what, you will never be good enough. One day we are given a seat at the table of opportunity, and the next we are cast out to the far corner of the room.
The feeling that I never got to define who I am. That my face said it all—foreigner. My face says I don't speak English. My face says I am valued, only when I am complicit, and beautiful only when mocked by whiteness. The struggle to feel valid. The struggle to feel like I belong. The struggle to feel that I am supposed to be here.
Sometimes I think the root of my escapism is dreaming that on the shores of my home country, I wouldn’t experience this. That on the shores of my home country, I would be judged based on who I am, and not how I appear. That I would be accepted with open arms like a child separated from their parents for far too long.
But the sad truth is, I am not.
So, I live a life uncomfortably in between. In between countries, in between ideals, and in between mindsets. Defined by the part of me I wish could rid myself of.
Too American to Be Chinese, but too Chinese to be American.
Thus, is the life of a Minority.
Cover Photo Source: Commarts