Today I lightly want to talk about identity formation and culture clashes. This happens to many individuals from any and all backgrounds and it is something that should be discussed. As I hone in on the Hmong community, I hope you also look at it through your own perspective, as it is important to be able to share stories and connect through them.
I first want to start off with a short video. The background behind this video is of two Hmong women from a local high school who performed during their school’s Diversity Assembly. They discussed what it is like to be a Hmong daughter and a Hmong American. I can truly resonate with this video as they speak some truthful and relatable emotions and experiences.
It is important that we as people are more open-minded to issues like identity formation, which are not in the limelight like many other health or mental issues. Nonetheless, it is relevant to talk about these issues and knead out the problems so that there may be less emotional distress, especially from the younger population as they navigate their way through middle school and high school.
As a young teenager, I remember having conflicting arguments on who I was and wanted to be. Was I Hmong, or was I American? Did I want to be Hmong or did I want to be American? These were the things that I argued to myself because at that time I didn’t know that it was possible to be both. I remember washing the dishes and crying because I was just so frustrated with all the sexism and gender roles taking place at home, but not only that, I was also in conflict with my future goals and careers and those of my parents. I thought to myself that if I wanted to do what I wanted to do, then I had to be American because my Hmong identity would not let me accomplish my ambitions. But I also wanted to respect and keep my Hmong identity because it was important to me and it made me who I was, but I thought to myself that if I stayed Hmong, I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do – I could only do what my parents wanted me to do. However, now that I’ve been exposed to different classes and experiences that have educated me in the fact that I can have both identities and still reach my ambitions, I am more than determined to be a voice for others to pursue their passions and more. While I am still trying to find that balance, that middle line, between being Hmong and American, I am reminding myself to take it one step at a time and to face things as they come to me instead of taking it all head on and exhausting myself.
It can be scary facing the world not knowing which identity to follow or stick to, but if you seek help and educate yourself, as well as share and receive stories, hopefully it can help you in finding that balance between all of your identities.
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