Growing up as a Filipino-American in a very diverse town, my identity was something that I constantly wrestled with. I noticed that in my group of friends, I was always the “token asian guy”. This never bothered me though.
I was proud to be different and I was proud to be Filipino.
However, when it came to being around other Filipinos, I would feel this unexplainable sense of guilt because I didn’t share the same interests as everyone else. I didn’t dance, I didn’t sing, I couldn’t draw, etc…
As a kid, I felt like I had to fit into the typical stereotypes of being Filipino and it only left me feeling like an outsider when it came to my own people. Because of this, I isolated myself from the Filipino-American community that I did not feel a part of to begin with.
Embrace who you are. Love your roots.
Respect your culture. Be proud to be a Filipino.
Being Filipino is and always will be apart of your identity. But there is more to you than just being Filipino.
We are Filipino-Americans, which means that it is okay to step outside of the norms of what others have told you it means to be a Filipino. We are surrounded by so many influences around us, that differences in our community is inevitable. I had to learn that just because I did not fit a certain stereotype, did not mean that I am not apart of that community.
The stereotypes do not define a community, but the individuals do. The one thing that remains the same in all Filipino-Americans is our common heritage, and that’s something we should never push away from. It is very easy to feel distant from the Filipino community, but we should always make a conscious effort to hold on to that important part of us.