Alicia's Food For Thought


Becoming More Me
June 28, 2010, 11:59 PM
Filed under: Alicia's Asia Adventures | Tags: , , ,

One month from tomorrow I will be back in the United States and I can’t believe I have been gone for about 6 and a half weeks. I think this internship in Thailand has given me a lot of time for me to think about myself. Usually in New York I don’t have time to really think about why I am doing things or what do my actions say about me, etc. I am not sharing this in a narcissistic way but rather for self reflection.

Being in a different country has really shown me how pretty damn “American” I actually am. I always thought that I had a good sense of balance of being “Asian-American” and that I would be able to blend in well with my Asian roots but as the Thai interns so kindly (or not so kindly) remind me how American I really am. I am loud, opinionated, direct, argumentative, self-righteous, and really have low sensitivity towards others’ backgrounds. I use to take pride in “winning” and creating situations where it is either my way or the high way and if you aren’t along for the ride, I’ll see you on the flip-side. People have told me in the past that I am “rough around the edges” and I used to be defensive and huff a “You don’t know me” tough attitude in response. My parents used to tell me that I need to be more “gentle” and softer with the way that I act. Again, I would be really offended and be curt with my words and say, “Stop trying to change me! Why can’t you accept me for who I am?” I’ve built up these walls that are so thick that it is harder and harder identify more with who I am on the inside versus who I present myself as on the outside.

But is that who I really want to be? Do I want to be considered a “tough bitch” and to follow my HBIC (Head Bitch in Charge) ways? I realize more and more while I am here that I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be this person pent up inside and who will cut you down before pulling you back up. And that may not really be “me”. We just celebrated Nick’s (another intern and my closest friend here) 21st birthday this weekend in Chiang Rai and we talked about how much growing he has done this past year in his life and how he feels like he is more himself. It really got me thinking about who do I want to “become” and how do I define what my life is going to look like? I’ve noticed I’ve changed a little bit while I am here by the things that I say and how I simply ask questions. Before I would be very “American” and ask very direct questions acting like “I am here to help you, dammit! Your way is obviously stupid and not working so answer this question so that you realize that my way is obviously better.” OK, maybe not that extreme but you get the drift. I asked questions like I was very entitled and that my “American Private University Education” allowed me to become an expert on how the foundation should function. I needed to take a step back and realize that there is a balance and a flow to the knowledge exchange. Yes, of course I am very helpful in giving them guidance on how their website can function better BUT they have a lot to teach me about humility, being intuitive about other people’s feelings/wants/needs, and about how to be a good person in general (things a Private University can’t teach me). There are also other small things like how I’ve noticed the Thai interns share EVERYTHING and they don’t count who owes who etc. Very un-American where I usually count exactly how much you owe me to the very penny or better yet, let’s not share to begin with so we don’t need to get into this messy situation of trying to even out the score. Really, there is no reason for me to be such a miser, these are only temporary things that don’t matter. Every time a Thai intern offers me anything they are symbolically saying, “Look, the cost of sharing this papaya with you is nothing compared to the value of spending more time with you.” So I took my ego down a notch and now I do want to be more gentle with not just myself but with others as well and to not get so caught up in the murk of looking out for only “What’s in it for me?”

So here is to a new leaf, page, or whatever metaphorical word you would use for a new outlook on life. I like myself more now.

Alicia Kim

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