When I was younger, I was such a “club joiner”. French club, Brownies, tap team, softball and coed basketball. I even tried to join the “pog” community, which was basically just three boys who would sit at their desks during recess and play pog. Yeah. I ultimately never stayed in any club for long and defined myself as a quitter. I quit everything.
Looking back, I realized that none of these clubs ever had anyone who looked like me. They never celebrated girls who represented my innermost ideals or supported what I had to say. Male dominated groups and Asian American-less meetings. So I constantly felt alone. My Brownie sash was filled to the brim with badges, patches and accolades from activities that were completed by myself or with my mom. Throughout my career I’ve felt this sort of lone duck mentality of feeling like I’m different. The catch-22 of this idea that one could feel so lonely inside of something designed to be inclusive, was heartbreaking.
A club shouldn’t feel exclusive. A club should give you an all encompassing feeling of belonging. Of being recognized for who you truly are inside. I wanted that for my younger self and now I want to share that with all of you. I’m scared all the time. That’s okay. Know that we are all in this together and making it on terms that we get to decide for ourselves. I know now that I was never a quitter. Far from it. I was a dreamer. Dreaming for a day when I would feel included.
It's absolutely imperative to our own existence and basic self worth to be equally represented. Not only for the sole purpose of accurately portraying how modern society looks, but also for the success and self-confidence of this next generation of Asian American creatives. I know first hand what it feels like to start thinking of yourself merely as an accessory. That your story doesn't matter. Being told you are limited to being a secondary stereotype or a just a "best friend," is an idea that started to not only permeate through me, but through the whole community. It's that question of how do you not start believing that you are limited solely to what the industry defines you as. That's the trap of it all. It's so extremely damaging. I imagine if I had grown up in a society where I saw Asian American girls regularly in magazines, on TV, as entrepreneurs with brands or well rounded role models, I may have had such different views on my own self worth and what I could accomplish. Even seeing one could've made all the difference. It's important to take our own narrative back and finally be the center of our stories.
The Asian American Girl Club comes straight from my heart into yours. My goal was to create something by girls that look like me, for girls that look like me. It was an idea borne out of passion and a yearning to connect and share with others. It was a call to action and an invitation for friendship. It’s a creative expression to make things that show who I feel I am on the inside. While truth be told, launching something like this is infinitely scary, I held tight to the belief that you would be there and understand it all. And you were. The sisterhood I had craved had been there all along. I just had to reach out my hands and find you.
I hope the AAGC gives you the extra courage to go out there and live your dreams with confidence. To find your sisters wherever they might be and uplift them higher than yourself. Create things from your humble multifaceted heart and take over the planet because you know you can. Most importantly, don’t ever be afraid to be you. I'll be right there with you every step of the way.
It’s time to show the world who we are.