Reading this article on Asian-Americans and racial ‘microaggressions’ brought up memories of certain experiences in my life and feeling like I’m an “outsider” or feeling inferior. Trying to figure out how I fit in or how I belong at work or in social settings is a constant process. As an immigrant from the Philippines, I was reminded immediately after arrival in the US many years ago that I was different, that I am somehow inferior because of my “fobbish” accent, the color of my skin, my race, my socio-economic background,and how I see and relate with the world around me because of my upbringing. I remember being mocked by other students in my 6th grade class when I raised my hand to ask questions and addressed my teacher as “Ma’am” as this how it was in the Philippines.I grew up with the values to respect authority/elders and to have the “we/community” instead of “me/individualistic” mentality but I’m also reminded throughout my career that somehow I’m being too sensitive with that approach. I’m not assertive enough, some have said.
I believe in the idea that the world does not owe me anything, that I have to work for what I would like to have. Watching my parents work multiple jobs at a time and not wanting hand-outs has certainly shaped how I view my world. Even with this belief, sometimes I find myself thinking and accepting that different standards exist for different people. I’ve accepted the idea that I need to work harder, prove myself more than others to be seen as equally capable or that I even belong. Frankly, it’s frustrating, but I have to remind myself that I also carry privileges that I take for granted from time to time.