In middle school, I came up with this brilliant plan to defy all Asian stereotypes. I was loud. I hid my high test scores… And I stopped speaking Chinese.
When I stopped speaking Chinese, I essentially cut off all communication with my family. They’d ask me something in Chinese, I’d respond in English. They’d just stare at me. When I was hanging out with my friends, I didn’t want to speak Chinese so I’d ignore my family’s calls. My aunt occasionally got so worried about where I was, my teachers would find her wandering my school’s hallways.
I started to realize my mistake on the very first day of high school, when my Chinese language teacher asked my class if any of us were bilingual. While most of my classmates’ hands shot up proudly, I hesitated. It had been so long I could no longer say that I was fluent.
Now, I’m trying to regain my fluency by speaking Chinese as much as I can, but It’s not as natural as it used to be. But I’ll keep trying. It’s worth it to reclaim that part of me that I thought was long gone.