identity, life, life lessons, refugee

Rebel Refugee

Lily Chang © 2019

I was born and raised in the same area, attended the same schools, participated in a variety of lessons ranging from the performing arts to sports, did the same sort of activities to pass the time.

Same as everybody else.

All I had really wanted was to blend in.

But, that didn’t happen.

Not remotely close.

Nothing was enough.

I was treated differently.

Like I didn’t belong. I was unwanted. Not accepted in any one community.

At school and in public, my being rejected was based on just one thing. One. My physical appearance. My skin color was neither super pale nor pink. I didn’t match the fleshy color of chicken breast, before or after it’s cooked. Being so light, any exposure to the sun could burn the person red as a lobster was the preferred choice apparently. And I didn’t fit that crazy ideal. Immediately, I was deemed unacceptable and worthy only of ridicule.

I never got a chance to open my mouth. Or have my voice be heard. Or show who I was or what I was like.

None of that mattered. People didn’t care.

I was a begrudging outcast.

Unwilling to accept my involuntary plight, I turned my focus toward Taiwan by researching and cheering on the rising political party but underdog of the time: the Democratic Progressive Party, aka DPP. If I wasn’t going to be embraced or accepted as an American, I’d identify as being Taiwanese.

That blissful naïveté was short-lived.

As soon as I set foot in Taiwan to visit with relatives as a teenager, I was quickly labeled by my kin as a foreigner. I looked like an American. I had already been made painfully aware of the fact that my appearance was all wrong.

I didn’t have the stereotypical straight hair and flat chest most Asian women have. My hour-glass figure, well-endowed chest, wavy hair, and long, curly eyelashes stood out. That was unacceptable. When I was in Hong Kong for a stint, my hair stylist told me my hair would look better permed straight.

To make an already desperate situation worse, my spoken Mandarin and Taiwanese sounded like an American. So I was told.

My attempt at seeking refuge in Taiwan failed miserably.

I refused to accept that I was not unacceptable or that I didn’t belong anywhere.

You see, I was raised in a cultural divide, raised by immigrant parents and immersed in Southern pretentious “hospitality,” mixed with some other stuff.


It’s taken me years to reach the realization that I don’t want to do or be what someone else expects me to be. Neither do I want to be a plastic something or other, devoid of personality or uniqueness. I want to be me.

I’m not so easily defined and designated as fitting nice and neatly into some sort of mold or category.

Who I am isn’t confined to a particular country.

Besides, I’m kind of a rebel, with a cause of course, anyways.

Lily Chang © 2019

So, there you have it. I’m a rebel refugee who isn’t of this world yet wants to love on people, build community, and truly live.

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