Moving to America taught me the importance of popularity

20 years later, I’m still trying to unlearn it

Adulting in your 30s

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When I was 12, I emigrated from Taiwan to Los Angeles.

I had always known I was moving “back” to the US. After all, I was born there, I spent summers there, and I had been learning English for as long as I could remember in preparation for the big move.

When the time came, I said goodbye to my friends. We exchanged addresses to we could write each other letters (now I sound really old). I got an allowance of one moving box that I packed with all my favorite toys.

I remember my transition from Taiwan to American as a very smooth one. I assimilated well into school. I made friends easily. I did well in class.

There was one thing though — at my school in Taiwan, elementary school was grade one through six. In six grade, that was when you became eligible to run in the annual student council elections. I always loved election period. Candidates would come up with creative flyers featuring popular cartoons and anime characters, and it was all the hype to collect as many variety of fliers as you can, especially ones featuring your favorite characters.

I didn’t remember anyone running on a platform, and I don’t remember how I decided on who to vote for (the one with the best cartoon on their flier?), but I always knew I wanted to be part of this election.

Unfortunately, my big move came at an inconvenient time — right after I finished fifth grade — which means I couldn’t participate in the election that I’d waited five years to be a part of.

You can imagine my ectacy then, when I found out that in America, there are also student council elections. What’s more, each grade had its own election, which means I could realize my dream.

I didn’t hesitate. I submitted my application, I prepared a speech, and I got up in front of the entire 6th grade, promising them that I would fight for things like school trips to Six Flags Magic Mountains.

Looking back, I don’t remember feeling nervous. I don’t remember any self doubt. It was something I wanted to do, and I did it.

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Adulting in your 30s

Musings and self reflections of a 30 something who feels like an adult but a kid at the same time