Life experience · 2 ·

The struggles of being German, Vietnamese, a student and a human being

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Strange traditions

I remember my parents telling me about a tradition of laying out different items in front of a child. Depending on which kind of item the child chooses to pick up, he will pursue the profession associated with that item. Apparently I picked up a syringe, meaning that I was destined to become a doctor in the future. My parents told me that I could cure them in case of sickness when I grow up and I believed that. Little did I know that life will become so much more difficult when you grow up. When I was still a little child I thought that becoming a doctor, a lawyer or a business person were the only options for me.

I thought that I will pursue one of those professions in the future, without exception, that it will happen eventually. For a long time I thought that those options were the only ones acceptable. I did not even consider that there might be different things I could do, dreams I would want to pursue. The fact is that I still feel some great uneasiness when thinking about not being able to meet my parents expectations.

I am German and Vietnamese

My parents made me study a lot. This might sound a little bit negative but I do not mean it to be. I am very grateful to my parents that they forced me to master the German language perfectly and taught me their mother tongue, Vietnamese.

As immigrants my parents always feared that I will be made fun of or that I will not be taken seriously if I cannot speak and write the language of the foreign country properly. And yet, it did not stop fellow classmates to make fun of my ethnicity during primary school. I hated it but I did not know what to do about it. So I endured it. My parents told me to ignore them, but as a child, that was easier said than done. I remember the time when I desperately tried to make friends with the child sitting next to me in class. She wasn’t really interested.

I was afraid of being alone during the breaks. Afraid of being made fun of again. Sometimes I hid behind the hedges on the schoolyard so that the boys couldn’t find and mock me.

The struggles of being a student and human being

The only option to make me feel better about myself, to impress those making fun of me, was studying hard and getting good grades. I was the happiest when I got praised by my parents.

It went well for a while. No, I didn’t get depressed, in case you are thinking that right now.
However I think that being a good student sometimes can be a curse. You try to build an image of an A grade student, desperately holding it together, because you are afraid of your classmates laughing behind your back when you fail.
You don’t show emotions, you hide what you are feeling, playing of difficult times with a laugh and spouting something sarcastic. Life becomes difficult if you always have to care about other people’s opinion. You will be perfect at the act of pretending in no time. For each individual you build a different image of yourself you want them to believe in. You can make people believe that you are smart, that you are nice, that you are tough and that nothing can affect you.
However the truth is different. Even the toughest people can feel hurt even if you don’t see it. Sometimes the outer appearance is a mean to protect their heart. It sounds quite cheesy but I don’t know how to say it differently. Some people will try not to let anything affect them. But sometimes there are things that still leave behind a bitter twinge.
I experienced that a few times myself. The tougher you seem to be, the more people tend to talk to you without thinking, assuming it is okay to say anything they want.
I usually don’t lash out at other people. But there was one time when I did. What I hate most is when people take your good grades and results for granted, when they say you are at an advantage because you can do something better.
Anyone who might be better than you at something, is better, because they worked very hard for it. They stayed up late at night and worked through the day, skipping their meals to get better. So I dare you to disrespect their hard work by saying that their skills are granted and that it is unfair or anything comparable.
I am sorry for the language I am going to use now, but I swear if I hear anyone spouting some bullshit like that again, I am going to smack them verbally until they can hear me in their dreams. This is the moment when even I don’t care about the things leaving my mouth.

Remember the next time you deal with another person that they aren’t always the person they pretend to be. This statement you may interpret as you wish. Just don’t make the mistake and confuse their appearance with their personality. The outside is something we allow everybody to see. The inside, however, is something much more complex.

Every human being has a very own story to tell. Whether a person chooses to tell you this story depends on each individual. To hear the story of another human being is a privilege that is not to be underestimated. By telling their personal story they will expose their thoughts and feelings, leaving them vulnerable.

It may be one story among of many. But it is the story that defines the core of their being.

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