It took me a long time to consider myself a “writer.”
And in coming to that conclusion, another problem arose.
As I’ve written more columns, more editorials, more anything that’s been published beyond the Notes app on my phone or the countless half-finished journals I have laying around, the more I’ve noticed a theme.
Writing, for me, is cathartic. It’s something I use to clear my head, to get my thoughts out on the page so they’re not taking up all the space in my brain.
I write about things that have happened to me, have impacted me. Things that have made me feel sad or scared or guilty.
And most of those things, ultimately, have related to my ethnicity.
Growing up in Vermont — living here, coming to terms with myself here — most of the experiences that have stuck with me have had to do with being Korean and how other people perceive that. How I perceive that.
That’s led to a fairly large body of work, comprising many columns, and a couple of short films, about how I feel about being Korean.
I’m proud of those works and I’m proud of myself for creating them. For having the courage to create them. They’ve helped me work through feelings I have, come to realizations about myself, and about the world I live in.
But I get nervous every time I go to pick up a pen (or, more likely, open up a Word document) when I know some version of these feelings is going to come out.
I don’t want being Korean American to be the only thing that defines me. I don’t want people reading what I’m writing and thinking that is the only thing I have to offer. I don’t want them to get sick of what might be, in their eyes, the same thing over and over.
Writing about these things is important to me. Feeling like I belong, understanding my identity and my truth is important to me. But they’re also not the only things important to me.
Sometimes I worry that I’m, in a way, “profiting” off of being Asian. Taking advantage of a mostly white state because I’m a person of color who’s willing to talk about it in a time when (some) people want to hear about it.
I worry that people only care about what I have to say because I’m Asian.
I worry that people tell me I’m a talented writer, or that something I created was good, because I’m talking about sensitive issues that they think they need to praise.
I don’t want to stop writing about my own experiences, but I also don’t want to be known for only the bad things, only the microaggressions, only the “other.”
And I’m not quite sure how to stop that from happening.