Growing up in two different environments may be difficult for an Asian American teenager. The home environment and the school environment have various social and cultural demands; although some may overlap, the majority will be a stark contrast to one another.
Growing up in an Asian American household means adopting specific social etiquettes that may be acceptable or preferred in the home, but will appear strange in a different environment, in a way that makes them feel comfortable in both environments. For example, Asian Americans often take their shoes off at the entrance of their homes and do not wear shoes around the house. While this small custom is hardly noticeable for Asian Americans, it becomes very apparent if he or she visits the home of a non-Asian American whose family does wear shoes around the house. Other customs, such as eating rice and using chopsticks, are even more noticeable if time is spent at school or at a non-Asian American’s home.
How does one adjust to these different environments? Asian Americans learn to adapt to different environments simply by imitating their peers. What may seem strange at first becomes normal after continuous repetition. Never used a fork before? Practice every day and you’ll get the hang of it. One simply needs to put effort in understanding and realizing the changes, and in no time, Asian Americans will be able to adjust to the different environments. Famous Asian Americans have constantly had to adjust to their environment and learn society’s way of doing things, whether they are in business, media, fashion, sports, or law. For example, fashion designers such as Alexander Wang have adapted an American and European style to cater to his audience’s preferences.
It is one thing to adjust to an environment, but a totally different thing to feel comfortable in both. The most important part of adjusting and adapting to different environments is the continued education, growth, and acceptance. Do not reject one environment in favor of another. Instead, embrace both environments and cultures. Asian Americans are both Asian and American, so it is natural to feel a tie to both cultures. Similarly, because they are both Asian and American, they should also be able to accept both dimensions of their characters. Being open to different possibilities gives individuals a greater understanding of the people around them. Empathy, sympathy, and connection stem from understanding other people and their predicaments. Asian Americans are special because they have the best of two worlds, something not all Americans may have access to.