I am odd, and I been odd since I was born. Odd means unusual and beyond the usual or expected. As a Filipino being born in New York City and growing up in Florida, I was different than what the usual American looked like. My odd life included different food, different family activities, different church life. I was the only Filipino in my elementary school, beside my siblings. It took a long time for me to get to a point where I embraced my differences from the typical American.
If you are different in any way: really tall, really short, speak with a lisp, look different than others, can’t sing, don’t understand football, or anything that is different than the people around you, realize that you are you. You are odd (beyond the usual) and you are great.
I remember the one day I would officially introduce my Filipino-ness to the world. I was asked to do a Filipino dance at the multicultural event in college, and I was ready for my walk of Filipino pride across the college campus wearing my beautiful ethnic costume. I remember SO VIVIDLY when this girl came up to me and said, “What the hell are you wearing?” I am not sure why I reacted this way, but my heart was crushed and I felt ridiculous. For years after, I stayed involved in Filipino events but continued to keep my two lives separate. I wish someone had come to my past self to tell me my differences make me great and amazing and extraordinary!
Now, I use this look to be different. I am not just like any other person that comes across your YouTube screen. This is the amazing me – I am Filipino – I am loud – I am odd – I am me!
I want you to be YOU. Be odd and be great and Shine Already!