It’s crazy how it took me almost 40 years to finally embrace who I really am.
I took my kids to San Diego for Thanksgiving to see my family. Prior to our trip, there was a group text to decide what we would have for Thanksgiving dinner. We ended up deciding on Asian potluck with mostly Korean dishes. My sister asked if that would be okay with my kids who wouldn’t be getting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and sides. What’s funny is that I think they ate more than they would have had it been a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
I love that my kids are open to new foods and that they love Korean food just as much as they love burgers and spaghetti. When I was younger, I remember asking my mom to make more “American” food for dinner or going to the store with my mom and putting those Kid Cuisine meals in the cart (What was I thinking?!?!).
Now our culture is all about Korean fusion and foods that used to be made fun of are now popular. Don’t get me wrong, I love bulgogi tacos and kimchi fries. However, now I’ll choose traditional Korean cooking (especially made by my mom) any day over the fusion cuisine. Even my other Asian friends agree that it was hard growing up eating different foods that other people weren’t used to and now these foods are trendy.
I belong to a Korean mommy Facebook page where we can ask questions or talk about different issues. Even though we all live in different cities all over the United States and even the world, we still have common ground and understand certain things about how we grew up that others may not.
One mom brought up that her child was getting bullied at school for their Korean lunches. It surprises me that kids are still getting bullied at school for lunches they bring from home because the food is different. But it really hit home for a lot of us and one of the awesome moms (who isn’t Korean but is married to a Korean husband) rallied a bunch of support and even had a PSA done via YouTube with actress Lindsay Price.
My coworkers even mentioned that her son doesn’t like bringing his Indian food to school because of what the other kids say. On the other hand, I’m begging my coworker to make and bring me butter chicken every chance I get!
So in this new year, I’ve decided to go back to my roots. I’ve been learning and making more Korean food. I’m still working on embracing my name. I was only given a Korean name when I was born. My brother and sister who are several years older than me were given both a Korean and an American name and both still go by their American names.
To make things more complicated, my name is a double name and it isn’t pronounced exactly like it’s spelled. So a lot of times, people just say my first name (Mee), which by the way I will not respond to at all. My name is Mee Jean and I go by how it’s spelled. However, the Jean in my name is pronounced like Gin (as in Gin and tonic). But again, that’s a lot to explain to someone when you first meet them.
So, I tend to go by MJ or Meej a lot since it’s easier. A woman I follow on Instagram just recently said this year she was going by her double name instead of just her first name. That got me thinking that I really should embrace my name more.
All of this is a work in progress, but it’s something that I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with and hope my kids continue to embrace as well.