Ashley, Belgium

Dear world

You. Are. NOT. Easy! You see, I’m the oldest at home. I have four siblings and my brother is in puberty-phase. You don’t want to mess with that, believe me… I also have three precious little sisters who mean the world to me. It is amazing to see them grow, and see how they handle everything. They are actually living their life at the moment.

But wait… reality check.

Once they get older and understand this messed up society, they won’t be living their life anymore.

I have enough on my plate but I’m already worried for them. I’m scared that they will get bullied like I was bullied because I had a different skin tone (I’m Asian). Or that they’ll ever think they are not good enough for this world because of standards. Thigh gaps?! WHY? The only gaps teenagers should be worrying about are the gaps between one food-stand and another.

I was that “typical” teenage girl who wanted to have a fairytale wedding and a big family but the thought of raising little kids, who still have their whole life ahead of them makes me cringe. There is just no certainty for them anymore, not even for me with all these attacks going on. Global warming is helping either. But the main thing for me: racism.

This has been a big part of my life. I was bullied for a long time in elementary school. I always blamed my parents. I kept asking myself, “Why did they start a life here?” I hated the fact that I felt unwanted and that I stood out from the group. After a while the racism stopped… or it just didn’t bother me like it used to. I still get the stereotypical jokes like “Hey, can I get some babi pangang” and there are days I would just ignore it. Some days I would be like “Sure, in your face?” I prefer these days to be honest. It will always hurt hearing something like that, even when friends make jokes, because I did try. I followed the rules, I never got in trouble, I speak the language, I go to school and I work. I’m perfectly integrated. But I’m still anxious to meet new people. Not that I’m not social but I worry if they would accept me. That is my main concern.

I would never want my sisters or brother to experience this. I don’t know a lot, but if there is one thing I know, it is that life can be short. We should enjoy every minute of it. Life without racism, how would that be? Nobody knows. I know I can’t ask for a world without it but I can ask you to think twice before you speak, even when it is meant as a joke. Don’t do this for the random Asian girl who is writing this but do it for the world.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Tep, 19 Belgium

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