Chap. 5: Major identity crisis

I don’t think anyone realizes how difficult it is to be born of a foreign ethnicity in a country like Canada where an American culture dominates.

From this, a lot of people would start yelling, “But Canada is a multicultural country! How can anyone feel terrible living there?”

It’s not the country, per se, that’s the problem. It’s the lack of permeation of culture from both ends that causes unease and constant tension.

For example, being born Chinese Canadian, I was exposed to two completely different environments. First, at home, I was taught to be a reserved, hard-working, humble, and just all-around obedient girl. This is the definition of a traditional Chinese girl. Second, outside of home, I was taught to be outgoing, adventurous, open and “rebellious” girl. This is what we call a Canadian girl.

Needless to say, I have been caught in a major identity crisis.

I am constantly at a cross-fire between two polar opposite personalities and for 24 years of my life, I have shed buckets of sweat and blood to come to a truce with both parties.

Sometimes there’s a win, but more often than not there are only losses.

Over the years, I have come to learn to accept and compromise, especially with my parents who seem to have been frozen in the early 1900s in China. Apparently, the Canadian culture never caught up to them even though it has been 30 years since they have arrived on this land.

Though I don’t blame them. Canada isn’t as multicultural (at least in its romantic sense) as it makes itself seem. It’s more of a country where different cultures live next to one another, rather than interact with one another, which is the ideal.

Being far from this ideal, we also experience problems like racism, segregation, and other sorts of identity crises at various levels.

Here, I would like to speak on behalf of all those who are going through a big fight with who they are expected to be from both cultures and who they want (choose at the end of the day) to be:

Please be more forgiving when we don’t always go according to your values because it so happens that ours are shaped differently. I wish you could know that no one wants to placed in a position where they have to choose one or the other. I wish we could all learn to really go deeper and communicate, so we can understand each other better.

I want you to get the message that we are not trying to rebel; we are just trying to get a hold of the out of control reins that are the cultural expectations and norms.

It’s not easy for us either. We are sincerely trying our best.


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