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Describing my identity accurately in Australia

Hey reach out ,


 TL; DR : I feel very self conscious in Australia and am too nervous about my identity. And had an insensitive encounter. Felt intensely insecure. Please don't hesitate to ask for a clarification. 


While I was Australia loads of people insensitively asked what was my home country Malaysia like which triggers ranting & intense sadness due to its methods of social control on muslims.


I met this Malaysian Chinese Australia female that claim she  was oppressed despite owning 2 passport ( secretly) , an Australian degree, lives rent free with mum and dad. Went to private school while in Malaysia. Has her own car from mum and dad. And 2 other luxury cars at home. This girl was jaded.


I don't think she realised how blessed she is.  Which make me furious when she brags uncaringly about being a melbournian so proudly. * Grunts*


I'm felt hurt and angry.


I do not dismiss her hardships of a new country but come on she had a leg up that her parent made those choices for her.


Her comment was out of touch to how I grew up where my town it was rural , oppressively religious, and people were hostile to western culture. You aspirations were religious teacher or cabbie.


With that being said every migrant does have a chance to be apart of Australia in  someway but Jesus have some sensitivity.


And as an particular asian male there were experiences where peers did had negative connotation on my physical appearance. And tons of harsh experiences or excluded functions to demean me.


As a migrant it held a huge part of my identity and baggage it was hard to describe myself without it.


We have a backward attitude about mental health, white people, and a lot of us are obese.


I understand young Australians born in Aus may lack exposure to how foreign culture treats it's citizen due being born in the western secular world . I'm sadden that I don't know how to explain the nature of my own country due to distorted image by mainstream media ( all internationals are money bags) or talk about my home country in a socially acceptable manner.


How do assess my circumcirstance to a friend cause it does get political and complex.


There are Malaysians who are very well off  here but I wasn't in a good position.


Until now I tried to ignore my origins and just act white as I can be but I don't think this a sustainable way in the long run.


I define myself on interest these days but other wise I feel like suspicious brown freak out in public that speaks the local vernacular well.


I look so suss.


But when it comes to explaining my cultural background I suppressed it in fear of pushing potential friends away. 


I'm looking for a way to explain it in a civil, calm & accurate manner. As I would seeing my girlfriends parents for dinner for example and not sound a like freak at the table.


I'm feel so afraid cause no one looks like me in Australia and I might exaggerate certain aspects due to my own imperfect knowledge on the matter. ive had a chat with professional but on this particular matter.

Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

Hey @BunnyWalks

That sounds tough, unfortunately I haven't had any first hand experience with what you are going through but I will tag some other mods who should be able to help 😊

 @missep @Asche @Esperanza   @

Whatever it takes I know I can make it through!

Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

Hi @erinAntics ,

I just choke in these situations and I'm looking for a calm way to explain myself.

Will wait for the mods.

Bunny walks.

Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

Hi @BunnyWalks I'm really sorry to hear that you feel very self-conscious in Australia and feel nervous about your identity; and you've actually brought to my attention that asking someone about where they're from can actually be quite triggering for them. I wonder if like me, these people who asked what Malaysia is like, may not have realised the impact of the question for you? 


When you say that it's hard for you to talk about your home country in a socially acceptable manner? Is this because you feel you'll be expressing a side of your home country that people may be unaware of or may not accept? Or is it more that when you try to explain things there is a lot of emotion there so it may not come across as intended?


From reading your post, I think it's important for you to feel empowered and that you can speak your truth open and honestly; because you know what when people speak from their truth, others tend to respect it, and in telling people you not only educate others about what's happening in the world, you also create a deeper understanding for them of your experience. 




Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

Hi @Erin-RO , 


People I've interacted with are unaware what circumstances that apply to me back home in particular and i just experience this rush of emotional distress as try to recall my childhood to find away to explain why it works in such a way. This does make it difficult when there is a lot of violence back home.  i have been practicing mindfulness to not think about it too much.


i find myself unprepared to answer that question in a more social setting cause the subject is treated in such disciplinary way . 


how do i speak my truth in an informative manner that helps the person understand in a respectful way ? 


Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

Hey @BunnyWalks, I'm so sorry to hear that you've been experiencing these difficult situations! It would be tough to deal with ignorance and dismissive behaviour not just from Australians who may not know any better, but also Malaysians who think that your experiences are somehow not representative because they are different. I just want to emphasise that I think it's amazing that you are so honest and willing to explain something so complex - it can be a really difficult conversation to have.


I can somewhat relate - I've had similar types of conversations with other people about my background, especially since I'm from south Asia and a lot of people seem to think that south Asians have the same culture and history (we really don't). It can be really exhausting and frustrating, and from experience it took me some time to find a way of discussing it in a way that was easy for people to understand, without emotionally draining myself. It can help to find people who share the same experiences - do you know of any networks or orgs which might represent or advocate for a more diverse representation of Malaysians? I think it's also really good that you're already getting help for your mental health relating to this.


What do you think? Smiley Happy

Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

Thanks for your reply @BunnyWalks. I think @safari93 has offered some great advice below, particularly around perhaps finding some people, organisations or groups who have shared similar experiences. That way you might get the chance to both listen to and share your experience in safe and comfortable environment... which in turn may help you to speak your truth, in as you say an informative manner that helps the person understand in a respectful way.


Or another option which may also help would be to go and have a chat to a counselor or psychologist... again I think it's about feeling comfortable and safe and perhaps if people ask you about your background in the meantime, I feel like its more than okay to tell people it's an emotional subject that you're not quite ready to talk about Heart



Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

hi @Erin-RO , 


 "you're not quite ready to talk about "


i find it quite helpful way to look at it.


If someone should take an interest how do i thoughtfully ask them that its difficult subject to explain and i would be okay telling them the story once we were more comfortable and give them some time to be prepared to listen of what i am and how does it translate to where im from. 


could i post a couple of drafts up here so we can see whether its a sensitive way to put it to another person ? 






Re: Describing my identity accurately in Australia

 @safari93 i have a problem with malaysian networks. ATM their political leanings have bleed out for the worst and I'm aware there people that may take advantage of my identity to further their personal interest. Its not unheard of but im just guarded even around my own kind.  i have set a date to see help. but dates have been changing making it frustrating to take action.


My goal out of this is to have a strong definition of bunny walks when i meet people in person not be lumped up with other people from malaysia cause that happens alot with people from malaysia. 


 South Asia is so diverse and culturally colorful. In asia there are so many ethnicities  it feels nitpicky when someone from not familiar with the range may not understand the complex cultural context. 


i take a relax approach to my traditions in australia ,i just dont have to practice them. im aware of them but i dont place expectation for anyone outside traditional culture to understand it. 


 i usually dont ask anyone for some cultural adjustment (unless if its drinking) .


For me it ranges from actually interested to just pretending to care to look nice. 


how do people react when you explain to them now ?