cultured – part 1

i understand that we were all brought up in different environments. i also get that sometimes, it’s not always 100% one person’s fault how little they might know or comprehend about another’s culture or ways or life. however, there is a certain point in time when one can no longer blame his/her parents, upbringing or environment in which he/she grew up- because by a certain age, you need to go educate yourself on these matters and stop expecting the world to just give it to you.

first of all, before any of you spoiled brats open up your soup-coolers to tell me about how it’s not your fault how privileged you were raised or how you can’t help it if your parents were rich, i’m not saying that there is anything wrong with having a privileged childhood or upbringing. in fact, i feel the complete opposite! go on! feel proud and lucky about your ways! i wish everyone could get to experience life like you! i don’t think you should be punished for having a lavish lifestyle. i do think you need to be kicked in the ass, though, if you feel like this is the way it “should” be or if that this is what the “real world” is really like…what i’m trying to say is, i’ve grown up very fortunate. well, for the most part. brief background: i was born in a rural part of China called Hefei. i moved to Beijing when i was 2 months old so i call myself a Beijing native. anyway, i didn’t come from anywhere glamorous. in fact, my paternal grandparents actually just got a real toilet a couple years back. and yes, all jokes aside, they had a hole in the ground! (when i was younger, i was always too scared to pee in there because the hole was way bigger than i was…) i came from nowhere extravagant. my parents worked their asses off to get us to where we are today. and i’m super proud of them. but even though i have a really great and fortunate lifestyle now, i didn’t always have it like that. but i chose to go outside of the elitist bubble and see what the real world actually held.

i learned early on; my pristine world was shattered when i was only 8. i had just moved to the states and i was just starting to experience what it was like to be bullied. i wore really thick coke-bottle frames (still do), wore pretty obscure Chinese pieces of clothing with misspelled words, and the only words i knew in the entire English language were “apple”, “banana”, “red” and “yellow”.  right before i got on the bus on the first day of 2nd grade, i quickly learned the words “bathroom” and “me”. well, actually, i learned the word “my” because in Chinese, “me”, “my” and “i” are all the same words. my first words to my teacher were “my bathroom” because i had to pee…

i was tormented as a child; people yelled all kinds of made up nonsense syllables at me as i walked past them; i got called nicknames like Mulan, chink, ching-chong, you name it, i was probably called. i swore to myself then, at 8 years old, that i would never discriminate anyone for something they cannot change. this involves way more than just race- this includes sexual orientation, family background, mental capacity, social status, etc.

some of the stories in the following posts will be funny, some will be sad, and some will be just downright repulsive. i often get asked about how and why i became as aware as i am today. i’m by no means done or feel completely learned; i have so far to go still. but here’s my journey on how i learned to actively become cultured…

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