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This article is part of Mochi’s Summer 2022 issue, highlighting the Everyday Asian American. Media often covers Asian Americans who are exceptional and defying odds (hey Chloe Kim!) or, sadly, when tragedy strikes the Asian community. In this issue, Mochi is switching things up and celebrating what the everyday Asian American enjoys, what’s on our minds, and what life looks like for us. Check out the rest of our issue here! And if you like what you are reading, please support us by buying us a boba through Ko-fi.

There’s a persona popularly described on TikTok as “main character syndrome.” (And yes, Mochi is on TikTok now!) It’s when a person imagines themself as the protagonist and goes about their life as if they are in a movie centered around themself. But to be clear, it is usually those around the “main character” who feel salty about being supporting actors and call the person out on their behavior. 

To me, it seems profoundly ironic to call out people who bring main character energy when technological advances and trends have enabled even the most everyday person to be the star, while filming the ins and outs of their lives and broadcasting everything from their OOTDs to their breakfast to the world. 

The rise of this descriptor as an insult is especially funny to me because as a child, I very much embraced being the main character of my life. In kindergarten, I would run around the playground apart from the other children, narrating and singing about my life as if I were the star of a Broadway musical. 

Contrarily, as I grew and the world opened up to me, I shrank from the spotlight and dimmed my shine. Although I did a stint as a commercial model, I remember feeling mortified when the camera didn’t catch my good side. As a teenager, I was constantly reminded how unspecial I was, not being an A student and not being smart enough for my teachers to get excited about.

Even as an adult Asian American woman, I am constantly encouraged to take up less and less space, to be quiet and meek, and to accept praise only when I set the curve and am truly exceptional. 

That’s why the murder of Christina Yuna Lee, a woman just walking into her apartment, and the mounting number of Asian hate crimes are particularly painful. It seems that no one cares when we are ordinary. No one immediately thinks to step in to protect our halmeonis or aunties or nanays from being attacked. 

Let me be the first to say that even the most everyday Asian American is worthy of love, security, and joy. In this issue, you will meet Sharan Dhaliwal, author of “Burning My Roti” and editor-in-chief of Burnt Roti Mag; Xixi Wang, the founder of Asians for Sex Positivity; and Lori Teranishi, the CEO of iQ 360. We will also be talking about family names, marriage, the intersection of being Deaf and Asian American, and more. 

The entertainment and book industries are just now figuring out that Asian main characters can draw a captive audience. We at Mochi believe that you don’t need to be the first or only in order to be worthy of the title Asian American. Our lives as everyday Asian American women could use more main character energy, so sing your song, make up your own dance moves, and be the protagonist of your own story. 

Author

  • Giannina Ong is the Editor in Chief and Activism Editor of Mochi Magazine. During the day, she's a researcher, activist, and content creator. She holds a master's from University of Toronto's Women and Gender Studies Institute, and completed her bachelor's triple-majoring/triple-minoring at Santa Clara University. A spot-on Taurus (sun and rising), she is also a retired athlete, pasta-loving writer, and overeager editor.

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