For a great time of my life I used to have difficulty deciding my identity. Was I American or was I Korean? My parents immigrated to America to seek the ideal American dream and provide a better future for me. I was born in Dallas, Texas on the 25th day of February in 1991. Growing up, my parents would speak and teach me Korean because that’s the only language they knew. When I began pre-school at the age of 4, my mindset as a Korean began to shift as an American. Even though my mindset for an identity wasn’t fully developed at that age, I never knew that I was growing up to be an American. I was about to learn a language neither my parents knew too well. Growing up in a totally different culture and environment proved to be the shape of my new identity as a Korean-American. Fast forward 20 years to the current day, I finally fully embrace my ethnic-culture identity through life values and experiences.
My experiences throughout pre-k to college molded me into the American individual that I classified myself as. From birth you receive a certificate that identifies and provides information about you. The older you get, the more forms of identification you receive along the way such as a social security card, passport and driver’s license. All these types of ID classify you as an American citizen. The citizenship of my birth deemed to be the living proof for my identity as an American. Despite the facts that made it apparent that I was Korean, I chose to ignore them all. I ignored the values and teachings of the Korean culture which served to be the crisis of my identification. I did not even desire to embrace my Korean blood and heritage any longer. I lost a part of myself that respected the Korean culture, and paid too much attention to remolding my life as an American. I spoke less Korean to my parents as well as practicing the language. I took for granted this grandiose opportunity and privilege of learning another language and cultural lifestyle. This was a downhill in my life where I discovered the consequences of abandoning my heritage.
Forsaking my Korean identity led me in a hole full of struggles and despair. I had complications finding the right job opportunities which added on to the wave of difficult circumstances in my life such as practicing my faith. I didn’t expect my identity could cost me so many issues, but I was able to find a way out of them. This is just the start of a new journey in my life.
Finding My Identity Pt. 2
Life today has never been the same. I have finally discovered who I am and how to behave in accordance to my identity. My parents have taught me a great deal of obedience, respect and love. I know many parents out there teach these similar values, but they are taught in different ways. The Korean culture is all about respect first, which is why there are different ways to speak to elders, adults, parents, older siblings and
friends. Anyone older than you must be directed in the respectful language, whereas anyone your age or younger can be addressed normally. The same holds true to the American language as we are directed to address elders as Mr., Mrs., sir and mam. But the one thing that bothered me the most was constantly speaking in the respectful form constantly to my elders, even one year older than me. It seemed too much of a routine to me and I felt like a slave bot. Looking back at how brash I was, I regret for not fully embracing the habit. This would of taught me a great deal when entering the real world, because it taught me to never take anything for granted.
On the other hand, I always had a struggle that I could never resolve. Seeing my fellow peers in school, I found many to be popular. I always thought that if you were a good person with great understanding and care of others, it wouldn’t be difficult to have many friends. Unfortunately I struggled with popularity even though I was always nice and caring to others. I never received a similar reaction so I felt that I was doing something wrong. Through observation I saw that the ones who were mean with big egos were the most popular. When I began college, I searched for people who were popular who could help lead me into that path.
So naturally I learned how to talk and act like them because of how popular they were, especially with the girls. Through numerous trials of perfecting that identity, I realized this was no longer the life I wanted to live. Especially after graduating I had time to ponder my memories and experiences in college and there are some that disgust me. Entering the real world I was lonely because I isolated people that mattered. Instead of staying in touch with people, I assumed they would reach out to me. I forgot the art and concept
of communication, but learning to embrace my real identity allowed me re-learn and practice those imperative values.
Talking to my parents and numerous mentors provided me the proper knowledge and skills to remain peaceful, clear and happy. I learned far more from my time spent with them than my four years in college. I was always afraid to talk to new people because I didn’t know what to say or how to approach them. I supplemented my rejuvenated faith with valuable advice to discover my true self and be free from all the worries and doubts that clouded my mind. My previous experiences as an American and Korean have allowed me to connect with people all around the world. Experiencing this has brought eternal peace allowing me to share it with others who may be struggling to find their own identities. I am able to connect with anyone no matter stranger, friend or foe. Just be yourself, and you will see that we are not so different.