The faces in the mirror
For all the race talk of gangs in Melbourne and the greater immigration debate over assimilation of values, all I wanted during my childhood was to fit in.
I arrived in Australia when I was quite young and while my comprehension of the slang was rudimentary, my command of English and the accent were spot on. It's a trend I see of all immigrants that learn the language rather than grow up with it – our spelling and grammar are often a level above native speakers.
As the only person of Asian descent in the neighbourhood on the outer suburbs of Brisbane, my world was seen through Caucasian eyes. My friends, teachers and everyone I interacted with were white – over time, I had reached a level of comfort and belief that I too was 'normal', a fact only shattered when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror or in the eyes of bigoted strangers.
It's a pain I've hidden for many years.
In an interview for the upcoming all-Asian Hollywood movie, Crazy Rich Asians, the cast tell of its significance and more importantly, their childhood memories. These resonant stories are echoed by the overwhelming tales on social media of others like me and in some semblance of validation, I am glad that I was not alone.
If I was able to send this message to my childhood self, perhaps I would have smiled more often.