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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Am I being too sensitive?

Topic: Am I being too sensitive?

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. What am I?
    What am I?  avatar
    1 posts
    19 September 2020

    Let’s start: I am a first generation Australian from a South East Asian background. Problem is I don’t look like a ‘traditional’ Asian; I’m too dark and I’m my body is too big.

    For as long as I can remember I’ve had to defend myself in regards to my culture: no, I’m not South Asian. No, I don’t speak that language. No, I actually am South East Asian. This also included when I had to go to the temple and my entire family would be clowned because we didn’t look like everyone else.

    When you are growing up and look different from everyone, including the race you belong to you are told to not take up so space and be quiet, so that’s what I did. I grew up and have led a pretty mediocre life. Even when confronted with racist situations I just walk away or make excuses for the other person.

    Recently, globally we have experienced the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and it’s brought up all sorts of issues for me. Growing up in the 90’s when everyone pretends they are more enlightened I remember all the racism, I also experience racism as an adult.

    It’s really messing with me mentally. I can’t exactly talk to my counsellor about it, as she identifies as Anglo-Saxon and I feel weird being all this up with her.

    The question I want to ask is: am I being too sensitive? I honestly feel so raw like an exposed nerve. I’m so sick of being asked where did I come from, what language do I speak etc. It’s like I’m constantly defending my existence, I just feel so angry about it (probably doesn’t help that I have a history of anxiety and depression as well)

    1 person found this helpful
  2. Croix
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    Croix avatar
    10561 posts
    19 September 2020 in reply to What am I?

    Dear What am I~

    There is no way you are being too sensitive. on rare occasions you might be asked your name, Date of Birth, Place of Birth etc, but that is normally when filling out a form of some sort.

    The rest of the time it should simply be irrelevant. I say should becuse here in "multicultural" Australia there is sadly a great deal of prejudice, stigma and false assumptions made about differing groups and appearances.

    The only real answer is a long term one where people grow up together, go to school together and work together. Then individual variation will be a normal part of life and not remarked on.

    BLM is a worthy cause and you can of course be part of it (though please no demos during a covid lock-down)

    Frankly I'd ask my Anglo therapist and see what she says.She might have suggestions on good techniques for handling other peoples ignorance.

    Hang in there and remember it is their inadequacies, not yours.


  3. white knight
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    white knight avatar
    9390 posts
    20 September 2020 in reply to Croix
    Hi, welcome

    I do admit, if I begin chatting to a person of non Anglo Saxon appearance I am interested in their country if origin. When they say e.g. "Syria" then I might ask them about what I know or don't know about that country e.g. staple food, if the country is still at war etc.

    So having said that there is two issues

    1. That you really should give people the benefit of the doubt of their interest as it could be genuine to be friendly and make a connection

    2. That if the person does display prejudice be ready to defend because by not defending the event will upset you for a longer period.

    I agree with Croix in that you are not being over sensitive. You have every reason to be annoyed by some people attitude. The only course you have is change within yourself to improve self esteem and accept that you can only change what's changeable.

    You won't be able to change attitudes of some people but you can isolate people into categories and stay clear of them. No different to how I eliminate some nasty characters from my life.

    Google this

    Beyondblue topic fortress of survival (also part 2)

    Good luck
  4. tranzcrybe
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    tranzcrybe avatar
    658 posts
    20 September 2020 in reply to What am I?

    Hi 'What am I',

    Thanks for seeking help and advice from the forums.

    As alluded to in your post, you are not alone in being singled out for being different in the eyes of others of lesser mental fortitude. And I believe you are right to be annoyed at such behaviour in seeking your 'authority' to be who you claim as these are little more than hurtful taunts derived from ridiculous consensus of looking alike to fit in - personally, I find such cowardly attacks thoroughly reprehensible.

    I would be inclined to carry an excerpt of your birth certificate to wave in their faces to silence the gossip, or have it printed on a t-shirt to mock their childishness. You are too considerate by making allowances for their ignorance.

    In that respect, I would say you are being too sensitive by letting such marauders into your head to lower your self esteem. Your beliefs and culture are no less valid than any other's. Stand tall and be proud of your individuality.

    Although, a word of caution - Are you not placing similar judgment on your counsellor? You may be surprised at how insightful she can be - perhaps after you can make a better evaluation.



  5. Not so hot
    Not so hot avatar
    21 posts
    12 December 2020 in reply to What am I?


    I got a lot from reading your post because I get this all the time. I think lots of people have these experiences living here in Australia. I am deterred from getting into a lot of conversations for this very reason.

    As far as I can tell, there is no acceptable or right answer you can give that Anglos will believe if it doesn't fit within neat boxes. Only when this starts to happen several times per week do I become overly sensitized and start dodging all the likely candidates.

    That said, it only takes one recent and sincere connection where the question is either raised from an entirely different perspective (when the questioner is looking for similarities rather than differences, eg. points of connection) or the question is not raised at all. After all, it's usually entirely irrelevant to the reason for communicating.

    Once I have one of those recent experiences, I can easily blow off the stupid where are you from from? no, really really from? questions. Most likely response is "just down the road" and I point to where I live, start laughing and change the subject. Other responses include, I am not really sure what you mean or what you are asking.

    They are not very cooperative responses, I know, but when someone won't take your first honest answer... I don't yet know how you are supposed to proceed? The most important thing I have discovered is that most people asking these kinds of questions and not accepting your answers are unlikely to see you clearly without a great deal of effort and performance. Not a natural connection at all, and I prefer to keep those interactions very brief.

    Re asking your counsellor, I actually think it would be beneficial. After all, you need a strategy for handling these scenarios, and professional people don't always need to see things from your perspective in order to provide support in practical matters, such as navigating the question, or any feelings that arise when dealing with these situations. Hopefully they come up with less antagonistic responses than I do. ;)

    You are definitely not alone, there are many many thousands of interesting and diverse people here who are all required to account for their appearance on a regular basis and then deal with the subsequent doubt. And we absolutely definitely need a T-shirt for it.

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