out of place in my own home

The cold classroom I endured, awaiting the lunch bell to ring with a book stuck on the same page from the past week. I slowly ate the slightly tasteless chicken sandwich from the school; thinking about nothing in particular as I was just daydreaming, which would become a downfall to the inevitable rejection I would face two years later.

Growing up Asian, specifically Chinese, my peers and relatives had expectations both verbally established and non-verbally implied that I was certain I would never reach. Not being the brightest kid, or even being bright in particular to say the least, had troubled me for many years coming from a background where everybody else seemingly never rested, never made any mistakes, never stepped out of line, always had a clear mind, and never gave up. “还在偷懒啊…” (still slacking off?), would ring in my head from time to time as being an outsider to this home in that way.
These people, my mother, friends, other kids that my mother compared me to, and even my younger sister were doing so well in places I could not imagine even being proficient. To this point it sounds like I am only degrading the potential I have, but for reference of my claims, I cannot even maintain a 90 average in two of my classes while there are other students flying at the top of the class with straight A’s. As long as there are people above me, which there definitely always will be, I will never hear the end of it.

However, academics was not the only challenge growing up Asian. Of all “meaningful” conversations I have participated in, one really stuck out. I once spoke with a friend, and we were sitting in her bedroom and talking about some of the most random things. One of the topics was how to express love.
Growing up Asian, these academic goals were prioritized more than social skills. I was taught “抓紧时间复习/学习/做作业” (hurry up and use this time to study/review/work) and “你这么又在玩儿啊?看一下你的成绩,这么差!” (playing again? Look at your grades, they’re so bad), and the last time I read or heard “you are appreciated” or “you’re doing great” or even “I love you/我爱你” sounded ever so artificial, or fake. It taught me pain, and now pain is something quite useless when surrounded by hundreds of people like me that have learned to love. It, too, made me feel out of place, and never at home.

And sometimes when I had a moment to myself and was not distracted by pain or temporary pleasures, I thought, staring out of the window, “is this just the illusion of belonging and I am simply awaiting the time to leave this place, or will these experiences come to stay with me wherever I go to make another home?”; yet these questions can simply be answered that I am at home, albeit one that works differently, but at home, a weird home that even after my departure, will remain a part of myself even if I was not as good as the others.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this essay does not represent the views of the contest organizer CAPA NOVA.
One thought on “out of place in my own home”
  1. AAAH sorry! I forgot to put in my last name for this entry, my full name is Angelica Wang

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