I cannot count the number of times I have been made fun of for eating “weird food,” for speaking something other than English with my parents, for not having seen “classic films,” for having no problems talking about sex and sexuality, for sometimes forgetting a word in English, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
It’s tiring, depressing, and stupid how far that list goes.
And for every one of those times where I have had to deal with comments and struggle with my identity, I feel that there is one corresponding photo on Facebook or Instagram from an [classic, family-has-been-here-forever] American friend’s trip to Europe. They’re set in idyllic scenes, they’re using ‘punny’ captions, they’re talking about how wonderful it is. It is wonderful! I’m ecstatic about sharing European culture with others and I am in love with seeing people experience it and realising that certain ideas can work (like being more relaxed, being less materialistic, and tips being part of the bill at restaurants).
Simultaneously, however, I experience rage.
It’s so intensely apparent how much a group can influence an individual’s actions. Once everyone around them started drinking small espressos after dinner, started wearing black and simple clothing more often, and stopped speaking English, suddenly it was not something to put down. And I understand– a lot of people feel that “because you’re in the US, you should embrace how it is here.” But… it’s a little backwards to think that the US is just like every other country. Its foundations are different than the foundations of every other country. It’s not founded upon the culture of one people. From its very roots, it is a mixture. So, even though there are certain traditions that are considered ‘American,’ it is important to understand that such stark differences located in such a concentrated space are what sets the US apart from everywhere else. It’s something to celebrate, because that’s what makes this place what it is. Without differences, you’d lose the identity that the US tried so hard for from its beginning. And would that be truly American, then? Or, at least, the European settler’s idea of America?
So… stop making fun of me, thanks. 🙂