Please don’t assume just one

laelene Post in general blog

Please don’t assume I’m from one country.

Please don’t assume I’m from one state.

Please don’t assume I only had one major.

Please don’t assume I only attended one high school.

Please don’t assume I only attended one college/university.

diploma double major in psychology and economics

Not just one.

I often have trouble filling out forms or answering simple questions, because my answers are far more complex than what is assumed. Facebook prompted me to fill out some more information on my profile and it asked me things like what I majored in when I attended the University of York. When I tried to input Psych & Econ, it wouldn’t let me. It tried to force me to choose from their pre-determined selections, so I skipped that question. Then it asked me if I graduated from a certain high school. Well, no I didn’t, because I had to move my junior year and graduated from the new high school. Yet if I were to say I didn’t graduate from that first school, doesn’t that look bad? I skipped that question too. Well, of course after that it asked me if I graduated from the University of York! And no, I didn’t, because I did a year abroad there but returned to UCLA to earn my two Bachelor’s of Arts. Once again, saying no wouldn’t look so great, so I skipped it.

chinese passport and american passport

I’m not just one or the other.

All this reminded me of this issue constantly coming up in my life. People assume there are simple answers to their simple questions. Maybe they’re right for most people. But me? There’s almost never a simple answer. Ask me what country I’m from and I don’t know if you want to know my family’s lineage and ethnic origin or the country that I grew up in. Ask me where I’m from and I don’t know which of the five states or two countries I spent my childhood in to tell you first. Even in those security questions when they ask your first pet’s name, I can’t quite figure out which one to use (my cat started with one name and then we used another). Chilldhood best friend? Depending on the state I was in, I had different ones. Oh yeah, and my name! Which one of those did you want to know? My birth (Chinese) name, the romanization of my name, my new legal (adopted English) name?

I try to keep things simple when I answer these questions, but then so much information gets lost. Trying to force one singular answer from me is like zooming in on one corner of a picture. I wish it was easier to get people to zoom out and stop trying to pigeonhole me into “this or that” answers. Do I have to explain myself every single time? Lately, it seems like it.

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