Celebrating the hoildays is a part of the human existance to mark the passing of time and moments of our journey on this rock. And as we know, holidays, specifically, are foundationally grounded in religious or cultural moments of our communities.
If you’ve followed me over the years, you’ll have noticed that I started acknowledging the lunar new year for the past couple of years. Now, my therapist will probably have me unpack how that part of this shift is a desire to connect to my Asian identity, part is me trying to prove my Asianess, and another part is figuring out where I belong in the social constructs we’ve created for ourselves. (But that’s why I see a therapist LOL).
But, how do I celebrate with all those ‘whys’ under my belt? To be completely honest, on days like Seollal, I’ll spend a lot of time asking friends, colleagues and Google about all things Korean. I’ll join in celebrations if I feel comfortable, but mostly I’ll spend time reading and learning.
My relationship with my Asian identity has been complex and layered. Growing up, I hated being Asian. Not until college did I even start being open to calling myself Asian and identifying as such let alone really learning about where I was adopted from.
Many have asked me why now learn and start connecting with it. Others have asked me why do this when the most Asian thing about me is my looks and that I’m basically white Wonder bread. And I’ve learned to say thank you for your reflection and opinions, and have a dumpling on your way out.
Over the years, I’ve come to learn that the way I identify as Asian, and particularly Korean, is up to me. How I connect with and celebrate it, is up to me. And yes, I gave myself this permission. Having grown up without the community and culture and to consciously decide to discover and learn it later is something that requires self empowerment and vulnerability. Now this has been a wildly awkward journey over these past few years. But it’s been an exciting, terrifying, confusing and energizing experience and I an eager for where this journey takes me.
So here’s to luck and fortune in the New Year!
새해 복 많이 받으십시오!
Until next time,
Peace, Love and Pandas!