For the past few weeks, I have advised my little cousin on his college applications. I can’t help but reflect on my own experience applying to schools as he and I go through the process of meeting deadlines, editing essays, and hoping for the best outcomes.
Is it just me or do most, if not all, Korean Americans, including myself, feel at one point or another inadequate in comparison to peers of other ethnic and racial backgrounds? At times, it’s the Korean American girl who feels unpretty next to her classmate who seems to resemble the idealized standard for American beauty–one that she doesn’t feel she meets. It can be the guy who feels desexualized because he is shorter than many middle school kids. Or it’s the Korean American student, like my cousin, who clearly has accomplished academic feats within the demanding schedule of sports practices, extra-curricular clubs, and socializing to maintain relevance in his community. Yet the same student chooses to see the negative over the positive and still doubts his ability to compete for a place at the top schools.