Am I Chinese Or American? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   I was born right here in New York City, and yet, I speak the language fluently, and even read and write a little Chinese. I also keep some Chinese customs.

Naturally, I speak English fluently, and read and write extremely well. I am independent and out-spoken, like many other Americans. According to my parents and some of my Chinese friends, I act more American than Chinese.

To some of my Hispanic friends, however, I'm a "chink," and to my some of my Chinese friends, I'm an "ABC" (American Born Chinese). To some of my Caucasian fiends, I'm just Asian.

I am not embarrassed about my nationality. Truthfully, I am kind of proud of my "exotic" looks. I like my midnight black hair (with natural red highlights in the summer) and my dark brown eyes. I do not want to bleach or dye my hair or put on colored contacts. I don't think it's my looks that make a difference, but my attitude. My attitude, I think, is a mix of cultures because I have the best of both cultures! With the best of these two cultures, I have my own special culture. This is what makes me uniquely me!

Yet, people still put me in different categories, and some of these categories even oppose each other! Sometimes I feel like a half-breed. I'm not really a part of the Chinese group because I am too independent and out-spoken. I am not part of the American group either because I know Chinese and I keep Chinese customs. It is not that I'm being closed out of either group, it is just that I don't feel like I totally belong. Sometimes, I do not feel like I totally belong with my "ABC" friends either because we all are at different levels of Americanization.

All this goes right back to identity and wanting to belong. I am not going to be a hypocrite and say that I want to be different from everyone else and not belong. I do want to belong, like any other human being, but I'm just not very sure about my identity. Is my identity the only one that is so complicated?

The funny thing about it is that I hang out with many groups and I am pretty close with some of these people. There is no doubt that they will always describe me as crazy, loud and cheery. Then why is it so hard for me to identify myself? Is it because of the mask I put on for everyone, including my family and close friends? I always let people think that I am happy, but sometimes, I feel like screaming at someone or crying. But I do not believe in pulling everyone down with me. However, I have been told that I do it just to not show my weakness, my own defense system.

I guess the only thing that really matters is what I think of myself. To me, I am still the overweight, little girl I once was, and I still do not know whether to call myself Chinese or American. I guess I'll have to stick to Chinese-American. ?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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