Thailand Travel Diary Day 2 – Let go of who you think you are
What do I exactly mean by this? To let go of who you think you are. Well, I’ll explain in greater detail.
This is day two of my solo travel in Thailand, and it’s amazing how many revelations I’ve had.
When you get used to a certain way of lifestyle and habit, you in essence let that define you. You let your job, friends, family, and everything attached to you define YOU. There is a saying “the things you own end up owning you”, which kind of relates to what I am talking about.
You are not making an identity for yourself, but you are letting outside influences define who you are and what you can or can not do.
Best advice is to never play the game if possible, though it’s hard, because communities, societies, and cultures are basically built on general consensus of our collective thinking.
My Past Experience With American Culture
Just to recount some of my experiences in American culture a few years ago, I lost track of the times I defied other people’s expectations/stereotypes of how “Asians” usually are. Mongolian culture is significantly different to what most Americans are used to since they’ve been more exposed to East Asian culture rather than Central-Asian culture.
While I had my fun messing with other people’s preconceived notions of “Asians” at first, sooner or later, how people view you kind of rubs off on you. There is a sense of being viewed not good enough or worthy enough because you happen to be an Asian.
Now there are plenty of advantages that come with being Asian such as being perceived non-threatening, smart and intelligent, but there is an underlying cultural consensus that Asians are viewed as awkward, anti-social, passive, and unattractive in some circumstances. Because of this, I’ve noticed some social barriers that made it less inviting, and in some cases harder to be accepted as just an individual instead of being labeled as that “different” Asian kid.
I do not speak any East Asian languages; some even commented that I am tall for an “Asian” although I am more or less average height in most places, and stares or looks whenever I was out on dates with American girls as if people were questioning “how is that possible?”.
No, I have not encountered any racism, but just subtle cultural influences that made me feel less and less confident in my own identity over the course of years while I lived in America, which eventually led me to believe in an identity of what other people thought of me.
If you have read my post about day 1, you’ll know that you have to lose yourself to find yourself again. Luckily, that is exactly what has happened. It’s just so freeing to be in a new environment so that you can explore yourself again.
You Make Your Own Identity
Only now am I starting to really unwind the conditioning that American culture has led me to believe. The narrative of “The Asian kid who always tried to be different or tried to defy stereotypes”. Fuck that! Looking back, I wasn’t really “trying” to be different, it was just who I was. However because people acted so surprised and because they thought I was not really being an “Asian”, I started believing their version of who I should be instead of my own.
Even if you have certain Asian stereotypes that apply to you, so what? It’s not something to be ashamed of. If you are smart, intelligent, nerdy, or geeky and enjoy everything associated with those “labels”, you don’t have to dumb yourself down to fit in. Just find people who enjoy those nerdy/geeky things you enjoy.
My parting word of advice for people wanting to explore themselves: Travel around to different countries, different cultures, and different places. You’ll soon learn that your version of “life” and “reality” or what you think is “truth” will be questioned and tested. Whether you decide to learn from it or ignore it is your own choice.