Finding Myself Through Others

Lindsay - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on November 24, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I sometimes get so caught up in my imagination that I have difficulty differentiating dreams from reality. I will see any movie with Pierce Brosnan in it, simply because if I do, I can see him. When I run, I calculate percentages in my head so as not to focus on the actual running. I hate McDonald’s, except for their ice creams and occasionally a small French fries. I avoid tourist-infested areas. Sometimes I tell Chinese people that I’m Swedish, just to confuse them and get them to stop using English to entice me into their store. Ratatouille might just be the best movie I’ve ever seen. I much prefer the subway train system to taxis. I love buying, organizing and sending gift bags. When I’m upset, I eat chocolate in the shape of race cars. It has a very comforting, very strange melon aftertaste.

These are just some of the things no one on the street knows about me, some of the things I wish I could just automatically convey to the man I spoke to on the street this afternoon. The truth is that often I’m stereotyped. It’s very difficult to walk around and not be approached by people with pre-conceived notions of foreigners. By the plain fact that I have fair skin, wavy tawny hair, and tower over many elderly Chinese people, I stereotypes are robotically applied to me; never mind that I am an individual, and I’d like to think a singularly different type of foreigner. Sometimes, this pre-conceived frame of mind I am regarded in angers me, sometimes it makes me sad. but when it happened today and that man in the jeans and knock-off down jacket came up to me and talked to me, his obvious ideas of how foreigners lived and thought made me reflect upon myself. In looking at myself through his lens, I was able to focus on all the little things he missed when he examined me. All the quirks, all the habits, everything that makes me unique, are easy to be lost behind the lacquer of stereotypes that are automatically brushed over me as soon as I step onto the street. It takes the self-knowledge to defy the stereotypes for me to realize how truly different I am from the “typical” foreigners they believe they’ve met. I believe that by examining all the ways I am different than how I appear to others, I find out who I truly am.