By: Linda Yu
I’m sitting at my table in the living room, which is covered with a mess of different colored sticky notes, mugs filled with writing utensils, and other really random objects: a hat, a bag of good luck charms, some old photos, a mini Chinese tiger toy, a gymnastics medal, a box of Clorox wipes. I have my sketchbook in front of me, which has three stickers on it: three birds with some Japanese words which I can’t read, an outline of my favorite anime character, and one with the words “we learn not for school but for Linda” which I made on the vinyl cutter one time at Case.
My sketchbook is the place where I pour out my heart and soul, but today when I look at it, I feel a twinge of discomfort. I feel a little like a traitor for having Japanese instead of Chinese words on an object so close to my heart.
Some people would lump all Asians together and say it doesn’t matter, just round to the nearest continent. Others would call me a banana, white on the inside, yellow on the outside, (fun fact: the scientific name for banana means “fruit of the wise man,” which seems fitting given the stereotype) which reminds me that I’m better at texting in my native language than I am at actually writing it (#byelingual). And I’m concerned because I heard some kids talking about how they would put “white” instead of “Asian” when they fill in the “race” bubble. I don’t mind saying my last name the American way, because I can make more puns that way. I don’t even know what I’m thinking about right now. And just like this, another quarter-life identity crisis progresses.
I start feeling tension in my temples, I wander around the kitchen eating Ritz crackers, I click my pen a million times, and I end up opening my sketchbook and frantically drawing, hoping that whatever I draw will somehow resolve all my doubts. I sketch out half a face, I add half a head of hair. I draw lips. What’s the point of having an identity if it keeps changing? I shade in half a T-shirt, then another half of a different shirt. I draw boba tea on one side, a Starbucks latte on the other. My favorite flavor is matcha.
After drawing for a while, I calm down. I have a nice conversation with myself:
“Who am I?”
“I’m just me!”
And that’s that, at least until the next identity crisis.