Born and Raised
When I was younger (and even now) I craved the approval of my parents. I wanted so badly to make them proud. But not hearing the actual words on a regular basis lead to me believe that I wasn't good enough. I wasn't smart enough or creative enough, and I needed to overcompensate to finally feel like I was making them proud, so I would feel good about myself.
The question I've been asked consistently throughout my life is, "which side do you identify more with?" I hate this question. You are forcing me to choose between my Italian culture and my Filipino culture. It feels like you're asking me to decide between pasta and puncit. Between gelato and halo-halo. Between my mom and my dad.
I knew it was something parents said to their kids, a thing friends said to each other, and I wanted someone to say it to me.
I'm Chinese, but I strongly identify as a Canadian, because I was born and raised here. So when people start questioning if I truly am from Canada or not, I automatically get defensive... Here's a news flash: Canada is a multicultural country. Sure, it has a large number of immigrants, but that doesn't mean every person of colour or person of a certain ethnic background wasn't born and raised here. Just because I'm Asian doesn't mean I'm less Canadian than you are. Asking "Where are you from?" automatically labels the person being questioned as "other," and nobody appreciates that. So just stop.
This Canada Day we are reminded that our country is a nation of immigrants.
It's not an innocent question.
While these days I can easily tell you which Indian designer I am wearing on my wedding day, who my favourite Bollywood style inspirations are, and which lengha I need to buy next, it took a lot of self-hate before I could fully embrace my identity.
It could be one of the most fulfilling conversations you'll have.
Our arrival in Canada started in earnest after the 1983 anti-Tamil riot in Sri Lanka. The mass exodus accelerated in the last decade of the last century, resulting in largest Sri Lankan Tamil population outside of Sri Lanka. Since then, collectively the lives of Tamils were "rewired".
It was the beginning of our journey. A journey to a new place, a new beginning.
About Born and Raised
Born And Raised is an ongoing series by HuffPost Canada that shares the experiences of second-generation Canadians. Part reflection, part storytelling, this series on the children of immigrants explores what it means to be born and raised in Canada.