The second week of school has just ended, and I’m already exhausted. It’s not that my classes are extremely difficult (who am I kidding, I’m drowning in work), but there’s also the added factor of something called…RECRUITING.
No, not for sports. Although I probably wouldn’t have any more luck with that, either.
The summer after your junior year is, as I’ve been told on numerous occasions, critical. So right now is the time where everyone’s scrambling to get THE internship at THE company in THE city. And with recruiting comes networking, which is basically a word that means “Hi, welcome to adulthood, this is going to be the rest of your life.”
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. Or maybe I’m bitter because I’ve attended approximately 9 networking sessions in the past 7 days. I’ve been wearing the same 3 “business professional” dresses, and I still haven’t gotten the confidence to wear heels (no matter how low) on the unevenly-paved streets. I’m notoriously clumsy, but I also happen to despise taking my school shuttle, which means that I’m walking to these events (it’s all about that 10,000 step count, am I right?) in sensible footwear. Dr. Scholl’s would be proud.
Anyways, an interesting thing happened a few nights ago at a recruiting event:
Recruiter: (brightly) Hello, how are you?
Me: (just as brightly) I’m well, how are you?
Recruiter: *beams* Good, thank you. So, tell me about yourself. What do you study?
Me: (excitedly) I study economics!
Recruiter: (enthusiastically) That’s great! Where are you from?
Me: *ruffles with pride* New York!
Recruiter: *raises eyebrows* Ah, but where are you from?
Me: *laughs nervously* Long Island?
Recruiter: *pauses* Yes, but…what is your heritage?
Me: *blinks rapidly* Oh, uh, I’m Chinese.
Recruiter: *smiles* Ah! Excellent. Did your parents teach you how to speak Chinese?
Me: *frowns* Uh, my parents are wh- I mean, uh, I was adopted by a Caucasian couple when I was younger, so I never learned Chinese.
Recruiter: *nods eagerly* Ah, I see!
Me: *combusts internally*
So yeah. I think I handled it pretty well and didn’t make him feel uncomfortable; we had a 15-minute conversation after that. But it had me thinking…
On applications, when they ask for ethnicity, I always put “prefer not to respond.” Up until the other night, though, I always justified my answer by saying that the company doesn’t need to know my ethnicity, that it doesn’t matter. Call it cognitive dissonance, if you will. But what if there’s a deeper reason?
Maybe it’s not that I don’t want them to know my ethnicity, maybe it’s that I don’t know how to be honest and feel comfortable with my answer. I’m Asian, but I wasn’t RAISED Asian. I’m not Caucasian, but I was RAISED Caucasian. (Heck, I didn’t even learn how to use chopsticks until senior year of high school, and that was only after I discovered I had a deep love for sushi.)
Call it procrastinating on my ethnicity, call it an existential crisis. I’ll continue to put “prefer not to respond” until I have enough time to give this all a closer look.
Here, let’s use the analogy of resume fonts. Sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to be Times New Roman, since I was raised Times New Roman and I act Times New Roman. But in actuality, I was born Arial. I just don’t feel comfortable saying I’m Arial, even though I look completely Arial. But I’m not quite Arial, and I’m not quite Times New Roman. So what do I do?
That’s right. I change things up completely and use “Garamond.” Problem solved.