I'm a first generation American Chinese citizen in my early 20s living in a suburbs outside of NYC. I've written about my self-identity crisis previously
with my family. Yes, I am in therapy & seeing a psychiatrist. Somedays it helps.
There's this one issues that continues to bother me whenever someone asks me if I speak Mandarin, apart from the disbelief and condescending attitude from strangers, which I've more or less gotten use to over time. I've always felt the "othering" aspect even when I interact with other ABCs or students.
I grew up in small school district where I was the token Chinese student and I did attend Chinese school for a brief time but I didn't make much progress. Right now I can understand 75% spoken Mandarin and a local dialect from general exp from my family/relatives. However, the nightly news channel would be a challenge because of the formal vocabulary. I considered taking Mandarin in college but I was never particularly good at foreign languages.
I admit I had problems relating to the people that's not a part of being ABC but as I grow older but sense of uncertainty increases. I have visited Asia, mainly China, and I still have the continuing feeling being out of place from the locals. It's fortunate that I live in a metropolitan area yet I feel "different." I have visited local Chinese-related areas like Queens or Chinatown but even so there is the disconnect. The colleges that I attended had culture clubs but I didn't consider joining them due to time/location situations. I've not experienced major racism from strangers or inappropriate comments from classmates but there's the constant sense that I could never "belong" due to some fundamental nature.
My family is relatively modern compared to other Chinese families but at the same time conservative. My mother would love it if I were to learn Mandarin seriously even if I just learned basic phases. Yet, I always have the feeling that I'm not "good enough" when people ask about my Mandarin understanding. It's awkward when many of my other cousins are semi or fluent in Mandarin due to their backgrounds. I know it's my fault for not focusing on Chinese school when I was younger so now I feel even more alienated from my main culture.
I read this question
which I could relate to and searched for other posts with similiar topics
Overall, how do people come to terms with feelings of displacement or "otherness" in their current society?