Coming to terms later in life ..

“Later in life” makes me sound like a 60-year-old woman, but I’m only 25. Does feeling 60 on the inside count?

Growing up, I was adopted and raised in a white family. Italian-American, to be specific. I always knew I looked different from my family. I was met with a lot of idiotic statements (a childhood bully told me that my “real” parents gave me away because they didn’t love me), people questioning my relationship to my family (a man once argued with my sister over the fact that we couldn’t be sisters because she was white and I wasn’t), and overall ignorance (someone once told me that the reason “blacks and mexicans” can’t tell Asians apart is because we all look alike - no, really, someone said this). But I knew that they were unintelligent and didn’t let it get to me.

When I turned 16, my brother told me to never, ever, ever date someone who had an Asian Fetish. The words were foreign to me. Why would anyone be interested in me because of my race? Sure, that’s the first thing you see when you meet me, I guess, but why would people specifically have a “thing” for Asians? He told me that men with Asian fetishes expect Asian women to be docile, submissive, and that no one should ever have the right to make me be that way. I acknowledged his concern and chalked it up to him being a protective older brother and didn’t think much of it.

Now, ten years later, I’ve finally come to understand over the past few years why my brother warned me. And I’m still in the same confused state as I was as a teenager. Why is my race a determining, identifying factor? Why does that suddenly predetermine what I’m like, what I’m interested in, who I want to date, what I’m like when it comes to sex, and who I am as a person? It’s bothered me more and more since I first came to understand the whole concept, and I’m afraid I’m at a place where I can’t turn back.

I am absolutely disgusted by this whole concept. The recent post on BuzzFeed about the Asian woman’s experience on OkC is the most recent spark for me. I don’t hate many things, but I hate this. I hate that I am reduced to nothing more than the shape of my eyes and the place of my birth, a place which I spent no more than seven months in before being brought to the US. I had someone ask me once if I was kinky in bed because I’m Asian, and naturally, Asian women are all kinky. I hate that people make assumptions about me when I’m going about my daily life (I have received more dirty looks while getting a manicure/pedicure than I can count because other patrons don’t understand why I’m getting my nails done by another Asian woman - I don’t go anymore). I hate that there are men who reduce me to a caricature of who I am because of my race. I hate that men expect me to be submissive and sweet and only there to be used as an object for their sexual gratification (this is a totally different topic, though). I hate that there is a porn category dedicated to Asian women, like we’re a thing that can be classified.

All of this, unfortunately, has made me hate being Asian. I have spent so much of my life wishing that I could just be another white girl. I have woken up and gone to sleep with that wish in my head - “Please, just let me wake up and be someone else, someone who isn’t Asian.” My husband told me he had a dream where I did turn into a white girl, and he was horrified. I hate that my initial assumption is that he was horrified because prefers me Asian, rather than the fact that he loves me the way I am.

I hate what society, what people have turned me into.