January 31 was the official date for the Chinese New Year as most of you may know. Normally I don’t celebrate any Chinese holidays or events. However this year, a friend of mine mentioned celebrating the Chinese New Year together, so we rallied a group of our friends together and headed out. What kind of adopted Chinese girl would I be if I did not have one traditional Chinese outfit in my closet? Since I was going to celebrate the Chinese New Year this year, I decided to wear it. My grandmother convinced me to get it when we where shopping in an Asian themed store. It’s a high collar shimmery red color top with gold flowers imprinted all over the shirt. With black pants to complete the wardrobe, I reminded myself of a Chinese resident worker.
Surprisingly enough, I don’t really have any troubles wearing the outfit among strangers. It is only when I encounter other Asians, especially Chinese folks, that I shy away from. It makes me feel strange when they look at me opposed to other glances. This notion came from when I was younger and has only grown more prominent as I get older. Whenever they ask if I am Chinese, I reply yes. Part of me is always afraid that they are going to assume that I can speak Chinese and then start talking to me in mandarin. To avoid this, I usually follow-up with, “I cannot speak it”. Whenever I look at their face, it almost never fails that I can see the disappointment in their eyes and their tone changes. In that moment, they realize that I am not one of them, but an outsider that merely tricked them. I get those feelings all the time when I am around other Chinese people regardless of what I am wearing. I don’t understand why, but it feels as if they are always judging me.
Of course it happened when my friends and I met up at a Chinese restaurant. I went through the day feeling fine and had no problems explaining to others why I dressed up the way I was. It was when I stepped through the doors and saw those familiar eyes that I recoiled. Out of all the waiters there, we got the Asian man. He asked me if I was Chinese and I gave him the usual speech, watched his all-too-familiar reaction, and was ready to leave. Despite how I felt, I couldn’t leave as I was there with friends, and I knew that I could power through the situation. I have endured it before, and I am sure to endure it again. Besides the uncomfortable feelings I had with the waiter, the night went well.
It is always nice to have friends around; they help you get through so much. Most of the time, they don’t even know it.