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Rewriting My Culture With Dreams This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I’ve always hated being Chinese. In my childhood, I felt like my culture suppressed me from doing what I wanted. Like many strict Asian parents, I couldn’t get iPods or game consoles because my parents felt like it distracted me from my education. I was brought up in a very sheltered and academics-oriented upbringing. I was so oblivious to technology that I was alienated in elementary school.

I couldn’t do conventional activities, so I had to rely on my creativity to entertain myself. Instead of playing video games, I read novels, drew comics, and wrote stories. Whenever I was stressed, I vented out my anger through the characters I created. I wanted to write my own books like the authors I idolized, but my father disapproved. He wanted me to be a lawyer, but I had no interest in law or money.

The more my parents tried to control me, the more I rebelled. I refused to go to Chinese after-schools and purposely deviated from the obedient Asian kid norm. I was kicked out of ballet for bad behavior and refused to learn piano and violin. Instead, I took up French, marching band, and water polo. I said no to SAT classes because I wanted time to pursue my own activities. I knew my parents could limit my entertainment, but they couldn’t choose my interests.

Despite my eccentric façade, I carried the conservative and paranoid Chinese mentality I was brought up with. I was reluctant to date boys, overreacted about academics, and constantly tried to outdo my classmates. No matter how unorthodox I tried to be, my actions were still Chinese at heart.

Ambitious to a fault, I tried different sports just to challenge myself, even when it made me the worst player on the team. I joined every journalism group within a thirty-mile radius because it would support me through writing novels. I woke up an hour early every day to write my novel so it wouldn’t interfere with my studying. Even though I had no interest in getting rich, I was obsessed with being successful and well-rounded. My Chineseness was the impetus to the forceful and proactive persona I have today.

It’s taken me years to grapple with that fact and accept myself as an American-born Chinese. Nevertheless, my culture and strict upbringing has brought me to become the hardworking and ambitious student that I am today. People have told me that I’m good with words, but it’s only because I’ve paid the price through hours of practice. Writing is my passion and passion is what I pursue. My culture is a part of me, but it doesn’t have to dictate what I’ll become in the future.

I won’t follow the guidelines set by my family, but I’ll keep their philosophies about hard work and determination. There’s more to who I am than just where my parents came from, and I’m determined to prove that. But if anyone decides to question my motives, and wonders why a Chinese kid is typing stories in a basement, it’s not because I failed to live up to expectations.

It’s because I’m proud enough of who I am to take the paths I want.



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