Thanks to Ms. Isabelle Min, the “mom” of Korean TCK community, I recently had an anxiety resolving/non-violent communication session. I found myself getting so frustrated about where I would end up in the future (after law school), keep searching for US immigration policies unil late late night…while knowing nothing’s going to happen until the presidential election. My departure date is coming up, and I wanted to hit the road in a good mood, not in anxiety.
Through the session, I almost cried multiple times. I have known it for a while, but the session really brought all of that experience and attached emotions vividly, and I finally recognized this: it has been tough for me.
On a facade, I was good.
I went to pretty nice private junior high school.
I went to one of the best prep school in the United States.
I did well academically, and I went on to a prestigious college.
I got a pretty good job afterward.
But inside, there were so much going on.
My junior high school faculty didn’t have much understanding of non-American students. I remember that while hanging out with other Korean kids, one school staffs came up and yelled at us, saying how we should speak in English. We cried. Later on, I was involved in a faction fight common in that age of girls. One of the girls backstabbed me, and another made up things we didn’t do and reported the teachers. I got detention. Unlike other kids’ parents, my parents could not come in a day and complain to the faculty. When my junior high went bankrupt and closed down this year, I was a bit happy.
My high school was by no means “friendly” place. Majority of kids were unfriendly, cliquish whites from six-digit-earning household, with parents who are happy in their rich bubble town. I couldn’t really connect with Korean kids in that school either. They came to the States much later than myself. They were still so fixed with Korean hierarchy and collectivism. I didn’t know who is the most popular boy band (I was listening to Japanese visual rocks). The white anime-fans had too much fantasy on Asia.
My college days were far much better than junior high and high school. People were so much friendlier and nicer. But I couldn’t really enjoy things as the other freshmen kids do. It was their first time to be away from parents. Everything was so fun to them. As of me, it was something I’ve already done for the past 5 years. While they just bought furnitures just because it looks pretty, I was calculating the shipping cost and cleaning difficulty at age 19.
Left alone in the boarding school, parents not always present (and sometimes in the opposite side of globe), I think I was unconsciously obsessed with the thought: that I can’t fucking screw up, because, unlike other kids who has parents that will come within 5 hours and save their ass, I don’t have such parents. I was never carefree.
After that, all I wanted to do was settling down and let my roots grow. I wanted to be in the same land where my dear friends are. I’ve been good. But then I was “kicked out” just because I didn’t have that navy-blue American passport.
All I want to do is establish myself where I grew up, and stay connected with my good friends. I want to be at the center of all interactions. I’ve been working hard and I’ve been doing pretty good. Then I was told to go back.
Then, what is supposed to be my “motherland” points at me and say I am too foreign.
No wonder, it has been hard. Pat on my back. And thanks to Ms. Min who acknolwedged it.