By Robin Shin
“All of you people born here, if you had to take that (citizenship) test — well, Canada would be building a fence right now.” That was a quote by Craig Ferguson.
When I was a child, my idols consisted of firemen and policemen. They were my idols because they did what I found admirable; they were the heroes of the city and were the light in the city that kept the citizens safe. That was when I was a child.
Now, I am fully grown up. My dreams of being a fireman or a policeman were crushed when my mum told me that I couldn’t be one due to the fact that I was a girl.
Of course, back then, it was a time where it still believed to be that those who were female grow up to keep up a feminine living style while the males keep up a masculine life style.
To me, that now is just a load of bullshit that I don’t want chained around my ankles to prevent me from reaching my goals and even almost impossible “dreams.”
My idol has changed because of all the intense changes my life went through.
Constant moving around in South Korea led to one gigantic ocean of a move to America, where I learned that the world wasn’t only made up of four countries: Korea, Japan, China and Europe.
Yes, when I was a child, the world around me was so small that I believed Europe to be a country.
Now you are thinking, when is she going to talk about her idol?
Well, let’s just say that I won’t write a book about it like he did.
I had a language barrier as a child, and then when I grew up there were more barriers to come.
I never fit in when I was in South Korea. I was constantly picked on due to the fact that I was “different.” Classmates ignored me, teachers ignored me, and tutors never gave me the help I needed.
Friends? I never had friends once the moving began. Teachers never really liked me because I was, as they constantly said, “different.”
It wasn’t because I didn’t pay attention in class or because I wasn’t doing the class work, but it was as they said: I was different. I was so different that everyone around me picked on me. I never had “friends.” That was until I came to America.
My goals changed as I grew up, too. I wanted to become an artist until reality struck, and I aimed for an English major as my parents wanted me to. My parents wanted me to become an English teacher so that I could teach in South Korea.
The only issue with that equation was, not only did I not want to become an English teacher, but also I didn’t want to go back to South Korea. I wanted, and still want, to stay in America.
In order for me to reach my goals, I had to be patient. I have been and I still am. There were times that I thought I was the only one who was waiting this
long. I thought at times, that if I were to end it all, it would help my parents out. They wouldn’t argue or fight as much, and they could go back to South Korea without worrying about anything. I wouldn’t be dead weight. I thought of suicide so many times, but was so scared of doing anything.
Depression was only the tip of the iceberg. It wasn’t only the patience I had in my equation that made me trapped in Pandora’s Box, but there was also the difference in culture which clashed in my family.
My sister and I were Americanized over the decade of living here. We are now hitting our 16th year, and yet we still clash with our parents.
They wanted us to become what they wanted us to be. Housewives, trophy wives, things I just didn’t see myself to be.
My parents never accepted the things I wanted to become. A policeman, fireman, or an artist — the list of my childhood dreams to now recent dreams goes on.
When I told them I wanted to become a war correspondent, or any sort of journalist who worked in the field, they were highly against it. They are still against it, but I told them all I wanted to do was work as a journalist and only a journalist.
They wanted me, and still want me, to get a nice boyfriend and get married so we can give them grandchildren. I don’t want that. That wasn’t who I was, and I knew because it didn’t make me feel right the moment they proposed the idea to me. I want to live my life. I want to reach my goals and dreams. I want to spread my wings and be who I want to be.
As cliché as it sounds, I want to get out of this cage! I want to date whoever I am comfortable to be with. I want to marry when I am ready to settle down.
I know it sounds selfish but—I am so tired of living my life the way only my parents want me to live. It was beginning to look like I wasn’t going to be a person of my own. I wasn’t going to be Robin.
That was until I heard of a Scottish comedian named Craig Ferguson. Ferguson too was an immigrant who had come from an ocean away to America.
He, like I, had fallen in love with America at first sight and knew that he wanted to stay here and carry on.
He worked his ass off, all the while knowing how long it would take him to become a naturalized citizen, and what length of work he would have to do to become one.
He didn’t care though.
He worked and did what he thought was right and knew that it was what he wanted from start to finish.
He still regrets nothing. He wanted to do something, so he left his family, did what he wanted, knew what he wanted, and he achieved it and is now living it.
Craig also wrote a book “American on Purpose.” As I read it, I couldn’t help but relate to the thoughts he had as he grew up.
He had the same feelings as I did. The feelings of wanting to leave his country, the desire to get out and be somewhere. He knew he would belong even if he wasn’t born here.
I realized at times when Craig spoke about those born in America, he would sound envious, and tell those who are native citizens just how lucky they are to have such a right.
He waited nearly 14 years to obtain his naturalized citizenship, and it wasn’t just waiting.
He had to take actions and used his resources to get to where he wanted to be, a naturalized citizen. Sure he couldn’t be native since he was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but it’s the next best thing. When I heard that he waited 14 years, I told myself, “I’ll be patient.”
I’ll be patient and when I finally get my chance to kick, I will get a goal. Craig Ferguson is my idol.
I may not go through the stages he went through, such as being an alcoholic or a drug addict, but I will do what I can in order to get to where I am happy of being myself.
I, too, will be an American on Purpose. I, too, will be myself on purpose.