I had a friend who would call me “panda”. I presumed it was because I’m Asian. She called herself “turkey” because she thought she had huge turkey legs. I even made us such cute comics about a turkey and a panda. And yet, I really hated her calling me that, because I had this twisted mindset that her cute little nickname for me was all because I’m Asian.
I’m not sure what being Asian means. To everyone else, I guess it meant that you had to be stick thin and flat chested and into anime and to take lots of selfies holding up weird Sailor Moon hand signals. I wasn’t any of that, except I did like anime and that was about as Asian as I was. I’m not sure if I was disgusted with people having preconceived ideas about how an Asian is or how we’re supposed to be cute and adorable and cuddly like a panda or something, or if I was just the total opposite of this super cute Asian culture because I was horribly anti-social and an all around irritable person. I was not friendly at all, which kinda makes me wonder why I have so many friends.
I find myself being torn between the preconceived idea of what I’m supposed to be and what I really am, which is nothing like what anyone else would think I am like. I have a panda for a profile picture. I’d like to think that I’ve overcome the crazy hatred for being called “panda” and that I’ve grown somewhat more adjusted into my Asian role as being somewhat cute and adorable when I’m not a complete bitch and trying to bubble wrap myself from everyone as if they’re an infected lot, but I’m not sure if I have really come to accept what it means to be Asian.
What in the hell does it mean to be Asian?
Aside from never being able to eat because you have to be this weird skeletal version of human, and aside from speaking Japanese and having colorful anime character hair, and aside from being super photogenic and taking lots of cute pictures filled with adorable stickers or emojis, what in the world is being Asian about?
I’m still really iffy on being seen as “panda”, even though I joke and call myself that at times. Why am I so against something so harmless? I’m sure the girl who used to call me “panda” didn’t do it out of hate. I’m sure the jealousy I feel now for people who have such cute nicknames for each other means that I actually do want that kind of relationship with someone in which we adorably call each other cutesy names, so why is it that I resent such a thing so much?
I don’t know. I guess I’m really just this weird person who totally dislikes pretty much anything and anyone, but secretly wonder what it would be like to be like everyone else. I isolate myself, yes, and I prefer things that way, but I’m also extremely social which makes no damn sense at all. I can’t tell if I have walls because I have social anxieties or if I have social anxieties because I have walls.
What does it feel like to be seen for what color your skin is or what presumed race you are or how society thinks you should be because of what you are? Asians are also supposed to be smart to the point of genius. I have brain farts. That’s about the best to describe them. I have periods of blank space that I don’t remember anything at all from that time in my life. And I don’t do drugs, so my mind’s not damaged, but the stupid things I do and the insane gullibility I have will astound most people. I’m not rational. I don’t score high on standardized tests and that’s only if I can stay awake long enough to take the test despite getting more than enough sleep prior to test taking. How does one grow up trying to fit into the expectations of family and society without going insane? I commend the people who do because I can’t.
Do I still have issues with being called, “panda”? Yes. Despite the like for pandas and the profile pictures and all the cutesy jokes aside, yeah, I still dislike being called something so Asian just because I’m Asian. Would I feel better if I was called something else like, “kitten”? Nope. I prefer people not to be transformed into animal versions as if life was some unseen Disney movie. However, I have become used to being called both those things, and I understand that it comes from a place of warmness in someone’s heart to give me such a nickname, but it seems utterly redundant unless I’m looking at someone else’s relationship and wanting the same exact thing that I’ve been getting this entire time: cutesy pet nicknames. Weird how that is, how I totally dislike being reduced down to a simple animal or word, and yet, everyone around me seems so happy when they’re being reduced down to a simple animal or word that it makes me want that kind of happiness too.
All in all, I think I’m just a very unhappy person. If happiness is based on the satisfaction of people around me about me and with me, I’d totally be the most unhappy person in the world. But my happiness isn’t based on other people. It’s based on me. And if I’m not okay with people calling me “panda” even though I call myself that, it’s my choice and complete right to not be okay with people calling me such. It doesn’t matter the reasons or if I was okay with it ten minutes ago, I’m not okay with it now and NOW is what matters. I can’t imagine being unhappy because someone cared enough about me to give me a loving nickname, but I was and I still kinda am.
I ride the Asian train easily, trying to mold myself into some fun-house mirror version of who I really am, going through the motions of pretending to be okay with things I’m not okay with. Is it such a bad thing to be generalized? Yes. Yes it is.
It’s simply difficult to understand myself, so I take it one tiny step at a time. Trying to rationalize my behavior and my thinking mind is like trying to find a cure for cancer or trying to end world hunger. It’s not going to happen any time soon.