Even The Bravest of Us Feel Fear

By Lena Kim

(@lenaa.kim on Instagram)


I try not to look at the news, even more than I used to before. Because I already know what’s happening. Death is happening, and society needs someone to blame. What better way than to target Asians, a group synonymous with bitten back tongues and empty words? And I have never felt this fear before, this fear that what if when my sister goes out for a run, someone tries to attack her? When my parents go out for a walk, what if they have to face insults and dirty words thrown at them? At us? I think I have realized that in uncertain times, people will show their real souls. And that people can truly be terrible, if they let themselves.

A week ago, I slit my eyebrow. I thought it looked fine, up with the trends, until I saw the look on my mother’s face when she saw what I did. She looked so disappointed, and I felt myself shrink under her gaze. She said to me that in Korea, long ago, no one was supposed to cut their hair. Hair is something your parents give you, and to cut that off would be to cut off ties in your family. It was dishonorable, she told me. That if I do a bad deed like that, it is not only my fault but my family’s as well. I used to think that filial piety was unnecessary. That people are themselves, just one, and should be seen as themselves, not as their family. In these times I have started to reflect more. I’ve caught myself staring into the mirror, wondering if that face really belongs to anybody. Now, I agree with my mother. I understand now, why Koreans value family highest among others. Because I am the face of not only myself. I am the face of my mother, my sister, my father, my grandparents. And in times like these, it’s more important than ever to stand strong with your family and those being targeted, especially when it seems like no one stands with you.