It’s hard to balance your different lifestyles as an Asian American growing up in American society. On one hand, you may be used to eating rice and using chopsticks at home, but on the other, you have learned to love sandwiches and burgers as well. As a child, it was not hard to adjust and fit in because kids concentrated less on physical differences and more on who’s playing with what toy. All that changes once you become a teenager, where conformity kicks in and becomes important to your social survival. How do you balance your different lifestyles, integrating into your school life while staying true to your cultural heritage?
In general, the parents of Asian American teens moved to the United States for either academic enrichment or to seek financial opportunities not available to them in their home country. Essentially, the importance of academics becomes a center piece for many Asian American families who believe that education will pave the way towards a good and stable future. Many American families hold this belief, but immigrants are often the deepest believers of this idea for one simple reason: their struggles have been met with success, or they’ve struggled to provide for their children the best of everything. As a result, Asian American teens are often encouraged to focus on their studies, learn a sport or instrument, and focus their sights on entering a good university after high school.
While yes, this is a general stereotype, it is also rooted in social patterns among Asian American families. In saying this, Asian American teens must learn to balance the expectations of their parents while still maintaining a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle.
As an Asian American teen, it may be hard to find role models that fit your career or future aspirations. However, with the rise of Asian Americans in the media and on adstalker.com, a portal of information on Asian American culture, it may not be long before Asian Americans become a staple in American culture. Jeremy Lin, the new rising point guard for the New York Knicks, is just one example of how Asians are forcing the public to address the blatant stereotypes held by other Americans about Asian Americans.
It is very important as an Asian American teen to understand who you are and where you come from. Learn about your parents’ histories and struggles, about Asian American history, and develop your own sense of individuality amidst it all. Understanding your past will aid your future and help you become someone, not defined by race or stereotypes, but by your own merits and achievements. The worst thing you can do for yourself is reject who you are and your background, so instead, embrace it and make the best of what you’ve got.