This year, I’ve spent more time over there than I have ever had before.
As a child, my concept of Asia came through family stories, folk tales, and video games. Through family and friends, I learned about 2,000 years of conflict between Vietnam and China and a decade of brutal civil war between the North and South - the war that pushed my family to leave Vietnam for America. I learned about the climate in places I’ve never been and the traditions of festivals I’ve never witnessed.
I grew up a world away from my heritage, in a sleepy California truck-stop town, Pokemon plushies in tow. I dreamt of the beach sun of Vietnam, the pagodas of China, and the towering metropolis of Tokyo - a dream that my peers with simpler names, ones that rolled off the American tongue, didn’t quite understand.
More than anything, I dreamt of a world where I didn’t feel so alone, so foreign. I wish I could tell my childhood self I’ve found that world for myself. But - I’m not sure if that world even exists at all.
Even now, I move through life feeling as if I’m toeing a fine line between being a curiosity and a spectacle. In America, I’m too timid; in Asia, I’m too loud. I’m not technical enough to be technical, but too geeky to truly be accepted as a creative. I’m neither here, nor there - I’m in a space in-between that nobody knows but me.
I don’t want to feel this lonely anymore. And to do so, I have to build bridges to bring people in.
When society gives you a place to “belong,” it is easier to accept the world in its simplicity. However, even if I lived a full, long life, I’m not sure if I could ever claim to “know” how the world works. As a perpetual outsider, I feel like I’m constantly searching for connections, comparisons, synthesis, as a way to relate.
I believe synthesis is my own personal superpower: one that comes naturally to me because of how I move about the world. There are so many stories to tell and worlds to create through the intermingling of cultures & disciplines.
I hope that one day I can l can confidently say that there’s a place where I feel at home: the place in which I’ve let people in.