Six Words to Live By, Contributed by Nash Fung

“I’m proud to be an immigrant”, those six words and the following story are what I tell my audience in every show. It is because when I first immigrated to the USA, I was everything but proud of being an immigrant, being an outsider.

For 100 years, Hong Kong was a colonial state of The Great Britain, and yes, I grew up learning the proper “Queen’s English”, and no, it didn’t help my communication when I first step foot in the US at the age of 14. It was the summer of 1997 when our step-mother England gave sovereignty back to our biological parent China, this is when my family left Hong Kong and started our new chapter in Seattle. There are many lessons I had learned from being an immigrant, but the one I share in all my shows is one of self confidence and embracing one’s difference.

Being an immigrant at the age 14 means I was immediately thrown into a very unforgiving environment called the American high school. How you look, how you talk, how you act were judged on a daily basis. As an outsider, I was different from everyone in every one of those aspects. I barely understood what anyone was saying for the first 6 months, doing a presentation in class was terrifying especially with other students snickering at my accent.

I feared that people would reject me because I was different, that’s why I tried to hide my differences. I feared that people would look down on me because of the negative Asian stereotype, that we were the “uncool” minorities. This is why I discovered magic; magic gave me confidence by deflecting people’s attentions from that which makes me different, magic made me look cool so people wouldn’t dismiss me as another nerdy and unattractive Asian immigrant.

A lot of life choices I made as an immigrant were stemmed from my fear of other people’s judgment, but looking back, I honestly don’t think anyone has ever really looked at me negatively because I was an Asian immigrant, or because I was different. Ultimately my idea of people’s perception of me was an illusion that was conjured up in my head and rooted in my own insecurity.

If we constantly live to pass others’ judgment, we’ll forever be unhappy. My experience as an immigrant taught me the value in truly embracing one’s identity, and most importantly, embrace that which makes you different from others. It is ok to be an outsider, it is ok if other people think you are “uncool”. But if you know who you are authentically and live out who you are unapologetically, you will be infinitely happier. I know who I am, I am an immigrant, I bring a different angle of perspective and life experience, and you damn right, I am proud to be one.

Contributed by Nash Fung, award-winning magician

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