Saturday; January 9th, 2016
Let’s start by saying that this is not for you. Nothing here is meant to convince you that your convictions are wrong, and nothing here is meant to provide validation for your beliefs. I don’t know if this will be used by anyone in the future, and I can’t control how this gets used. Parts of my thoughts and experiences won’t match the predominant Asian-American voices, and any differences between other peoples’ stories and mine shouldn’t discredit or undermine any of our experiences altogether. All I can do is put down my own intent:
This is for me; this is my attempt to make sense of what I’ve been experiencing since I arrived in England. This is for my own personal growth.
Originally, I wanted to tackle the subject of being in a female in STEM and the differences between engineering in the US and computer science in the UK. I’ll be doing that still, but somehow this came out first. Race and identity isn’t a subject I thought I would have so many feelings about, but after being here for four months it has really started to weigh on my mind. I expect my feelings about this will continue to develop as I grow older.
Why I’m Afraid to Write This
I hesitate to talk about my experience with racism and prejudice because I feel like relative to many people, I haven’t experienced very much in frequency or intensity. I’m afraid that my general live-and-let-live attitude might negatively affect the progression of racial equality because it could confuse what people ‘should’ passively accept as okay. I’m afraid to let this out in to the world because I could face backlash. I could be doxxed if someone really doesn’t like what I have to say. I might lose people I care about if this is interpreted as an overly sensitive viewpoint or one that’s not passionate enough.
I’m afraid to write this because it is a self-indulgent exercise. Letting out my side on a discussion about racial topics risks coming off as whiny, egotistical, and holier-than-thou. There’s backlash and friction, tension and aggression that I am barely equipped to handle if it comes down to that.
But isn’t that how we grow? Shouldn’t we do things we’re afraid to do when they are things that ultimately lead to a more nuanced experience of the world? Here goes…
I am a 22-year-old Taiwanese-American female. I was born in Massachusetts and raised in Arizona. I grew up going to (and admittedly half-assing) Chinese School every Sunday and am the firstborn child in my family.
Most of my friends growing up were not Mandarin-speaking. I was either the only or one of two Asian student(s) at my Montessori school until I was twelve and re-entered public school. Up until then, the idea of my race hadn’t been part of my identity. At the age of twelve, I was confronted for the first time by the stereotypes associated with my race. I didn’t know I was supposed to do anything other than accept them.
By the time I was in high school, I had fully I embraced them. I participated in laughing at “Asian guys have small dicks” jokes, my friends’ making fun of the way Mandarin sounded to non-speakers’ ears, and my own “all Asians look the same” self-deprecation. It got noticed that I had only dated non-Asians. (As it stands today, I have still gone on dates with a few Chinese-American people and none resulted in anything long-term.)
My brother and I fought my mother on speaking only Mandarin at home and we won. We weren’t trying to reject our heritage, but hindsight tends to shade it that way. It’s embarrassing that I am functionally illiterate in my first language when I have met people now who are wholly, fluently bilingual and had the same or fewer opportunities than I did.
The First Time I Saw My Skin
I was 20 the first time I felt uncomfortable in the color of my skin. This is probably a lot older than other minorities have experienced, and I’m grateful this happened much later in life than what has probably been the experience of other people.
I had just accepted a summer internship in Seattle. My father accompanied me on the more efficient, less scenic, landlocked drive through Nevada and Idaho. For two days, he was the only other Asian person I saw. Anywhere we stopped for a meal, we were watched. No one commented on our look, but the surprise of the wait staff at restaurants wasn’t unnoticed. Glances became double-takes or extended stares whenever we walked in and opened our mouths to speak. Moving through all of those small towns along the interstate made me more self-conscious than I’d ever felt in my life. Being on the other end of this kind of gaze feels very different than being the subject of someone’s curiosity, misogyny, or personal disdain. I finally understood what it was like to be stared at for my skin by strangers.
To be honest, while it doesn’t feel good, it isn’t intolerable or horribly offensive feeling either. It’s usually curiosity that fuels those kinds of stares–I could be peoples’ first exposure to someone who doesn’t look like but does sound like themselves. The most that crosses my mind is the hope that I leave either a good impression or no impression.
Being a Stranger’s First Taiwanese-American
Many of the racially-based faux pas I have either heard as a bystander or received personally have been categorized in my mind as either naive or malicious. Accidentally invasive or insensitive questions are mental missteps.
I spent this last Christmas in England where I was invited to my longtime internet friend’s home for the holidays. Meeting her mother and sister was just as natural and comfortable as it had always been over the eight years of Skyping with an added dash of excitement from the corporeal factor. As it drew closer to Christmas Day, I started meeting more of their extended family.
I have the suspicion that I was my friend’s grandmother’s first ever Asian-American. Questions like, “So where does your allegiance lie? With China or the US?” and “So you were born in China. How did you end up in America?” and “What do your people celebrate?” verbatim were followed by hushed apologies from my friend, the sister, and the mother later in other rooms.
For them it was embarrassing, but there wasn’t anything harmful or accusatory about the conversation. I was a conundrum to their grandmother who had possibly never imagined before out conversation that there could be a box other than “Chinese” that I could have checked. I explained to her a few times over that I was not Chinese but Taiwanese before the detail really settled in to her perception of me. I reiterated how I was born and raised in the United States with occasional visits back to Taiwan and explained how going to the Chinese School in our city that was attended mostly by the Taiwanese community kept some of the cultural awareness and traditions alive during my growing up. Answers were phrased to gently overwrite the premise of a binary selection between the identities she proffered in her questions’ phrasings. Neither of us left feeling offended or belittled. There’s a difference between deliberate racism and being underexposed to emerging cultural identities in a rapidly changing, globalized world. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to gently explain my background to someone and offer to expand their worldview.
I left Christmas this weekend with the realization that I prefer to handle this kind of First-Asian-American experience by trying to gently-explain without condescending to someone. I think I would have had a very hard time pulling this off as smoothly or coherently as I did if I’d been faced with the same situation at a younger age. It needed a slowed down approach that I would have had a hard time managing.
As I’ve spent more time here in England, I’ve realized I am a lot of my new friends’ first exposures to an Asian-American. It’s been interesting to see how the other Mandarin-speaking international students and the English students react differently to me when I start to speak. Forming friendly rapports with both groups in the CompSci program has been absolutely lovely. I get to spend a lot of my days practicing my Mandarin and helping to speed along mutual understanding during the occasional hiccup in conversations we have among ourselves during lab sessions or study groups.
These are the kinds of interactions that make the world feel gentle and welcoming. These are the ones I love.
I feel lucky that I came here not expecting to meet the level of casual and unironic racism that I have actually experienced. Since arriving here last September, I have experienced more random verbal hostility or outright harassment on the street than I ever have before in my life.
The first week I arrived in Newcastle, two people here try to hit on me by yelling hello at me in Mandarin. When I kept walking, they yelled louder. While the first incident ended there, the second guy continued yelling at me from across a bridge that he had just spent time in China, like it was supposed to mean he would understand me, like it was supposed to impress me and get me to talk to him. My flatmate and I kept walking.
Later that week, I sat down on the metro across from a woman facing me. I was noting the spatial frequency patterns in the construction details of the train when her and I accidentally made eye contact. My instinct was to smile lightly. Hers was to get up and move one row away from me while the train was moving. I chalked it up to a silly little cross-cultural communication bump which might not have panned out in quite a dramatic final action if I had looked something more like her.
The next incident took place in the classroom in the form of an absent-minded comment made by someone who I had just started becoming friends with. During a mid-lecture break, he nudged my arm and angrily muttered, “God, I wish they would shut up,” and motioned toward the Mandarin-speaking students expecting I would agree with him. It was a strange feeling to have to explain to him that they were actually talking about the coursework and were completely on-task.
On the way back from my first archery class, me and another student from the lesson were the only Asians in the whole car. A pack of people chanted “CHING CHANG CHONG” repeatedly across the train car to get me and my friend’s attention. There’s no way it was aimed at anyone else, and it lasted for an entire ride between stations. Him and I both glanced over briefly out of surprise and then pretended we couldn’t hear anything. This was in a car full of people, full of inaction. This was inaction that we contributed to by turning around and accepting the behavior.
The last most memorable incident occurred on New Year’s Eve when I was out with my neighbor, her boyfriend, and their other couple friends. It is notable that all five of us are ethnic minorities. My neighbor and I were waiting at our table for the rest of the party to show up and get drinks when someone passing out of the restaurant called over to us to “go back to your fucking country, you —.” It was so loud in the lounge that I thankfully missed exactly what derogatory name it was that he called us. The message wasn’t lost later that night out on the street when random passers by muttered “terrorist” as we went by in a group.
I can choose to keep walking without reply or I can choose to turn around and say something when verbal harassment is direct at me. On instinct, I tend to choose the former. Luckily, all I have experienced so far is verbal harassment–I don’t know what would happen if someone touched me. Would my instincts lend themselves to self defense practices or would I freeze up like I did last time I was scared for my physical safety? I hope I don’t have to find out.
Current instincts tell me to dissociate myself from the situation and understand that the hostility is more about them than it is about me. While this is a fairly internally peaceful reaction, I can’t help but wonder: If I don’t react, who am I ultimately hurting? I could be undermining the unified front against the “go back to your country” comments that other people are trying to build.
I was talking to two of my old roommates back home about these incidents and one noted that the stunned response I have to these situations is can be seen as a good thing. It means I’ve been lucky when it comes to the kinds of people I’ve been exposed to so far, and the message of being more mindful of the diversity in cultural backgrounds has really made a difference in the United States in the spaces where I have lived. It goes to show that open discourse and awareness of biases does work and is important.
Discovering the People You Love Think Racism Against Asian-Americans Isn’t Possible
Even harder than feeling unsafe on the streets of the city at night is discovering someone you adore believes Asian-Americans cannot be discriminated against and that “reverse-racism” is a thing.
In the winter of my being 21 years old, I was hanging out with two people: my then closest male friend and his best friend who I had just begun seeing. These were people who I could have unfiltered, open conversations with about controversial topics. The honestly that we allowed toward each other in this space was what made being around them so refreshing. I cannot remember how the topic of racism against Asian-Americans came up, but I would imagine it was a segue from the topic of unarmed killings by police officers that had been going on around the Fall of 2014.
Never had I felt more alien than when my closest male friend of 3.5 years looked at me and made the first “Asian-Americans can’t experience racism” style comment. The conversation between my two blond-haired, light-eyed, young twenty-something friends continued on without me after that comment. When I wanted to speak up, my vocal chords refused to cooperate. I couldn’t form a coherent sentence.
Up until then, I had always assumed that we shared the same values and beliefs because they had never treated me as ‘other’. That’s when I realized it might be because they didn’t really see me as a minority. I was a novel exception or an honorary inclusion exempt from the rules maybe even paradoxically because of my model-minority status. They thought I would agree with them.
I’m ashamed to say that I never was able to speak up to both of them about how much that comment hurt. I was only barely able to form a few sentences later about it to the one I was seeing during a solo hang out. Erasure from the conversation was a dismissal of my identity that quickly turned the room in to an echo chamber of them reinforcing each others’ viewpoints on the validity of the term ‘reverse-racism’ and how members of the model minority had no real ground for complaints. Fissures I wanted to keep from propagating through the friendship spawned during the conversation that night, and it has not been the same since.
How do you continue being friends with people you love after a night like this? When quietly starting a non-confrontational conversation to tell someone that their dismissal of your experience was hurtful and unfair is effectively dismissed? Social relationships that reach a certain sense of caring for someone else are very hard to suddenly switch off. I would venture to say that ceasing to care entirely is impossible.
Since a treatment program hasn’t been thought up yet, practicing preventative social medicine is the next best thing. I am trying harder now to befriend people who are thoughtful and slower to immediate opposition when they encounter a view that differs from theirs. I am trying to be that friend too.
Being Used as Someone’s Token “Well, I have this Asian friend and…”Credential
There is a worrying behavior that I’ve noticed and started to think of as a new kind of racial objectification. I am talking about a “collect them all” or “best of” behavior of passing forward ethnic minority friends’ second-hand stories by framing them in a way that earns the storyteller in the ethnic majority some extra kudos for being so sympathetic to the struggles of their special friend. The analogy that keeps popping up in my head is how this behavior is like an out-of-touch Social Justice Warrior’s analogue for Munchausen syndrome by Proxy. Being on the other end of that feels belittling and dehumanizing.
When a friend makes assumptions about my background by asking to “learn what [my] real name” is because they “shouldn’t have to call [me] by something [I] chose to make white people feel better,” I feel equally objectified as when a potential romantic partner tells me they “only date Asian girls.” I was born and raised in the United States and my English name is as representative–if not more–of who I am than my Mandarin name.
Last time I was asked this and I responded, “No, ‘[Jam]’ is my first given, legal name,” the look I got back in return was tinged with disappointment. It was like suddenly I wasn’t exotic enough to be that someone’s “ethnic minority friend who has capital S Struggled and has had this specific capital E Experience.” I suspect that person had at some point before asking me this question used me as an anecdotal credential or sob story to someone else to make or earn a point.
As wonderfully illuminating the social justice movement can be for the struggles of minorities, it’s hard to watch some edges of it become populated with narcissists that use these sad stories so that people will tell them how wonderful and worldly and kind they are for standing up for the little guy. Having a few bad apples makes finding friends involved with that community and movement much harder. But I guess this is what emotional resilience and a strong sense of self-identity is for.
I can only chuckle at the irony in how I now need to also worry about being objectified as proof-of-acceptance by potential friends when it used to be more of a concern when it came to potential romantic partners. Overzealous campaigning can cross over in to reductionist, damaging behavior. Abundant enthusiasm doesn’t signify selfish motives. The worry is that without the right amount of emotional intelligence mixed with tact, it can look like a bid for a pat on the back or become derailed in to an ego-driven argument session in online social justice spaces rather than the progressive call-to-action it is meant to inspire.
Even though I’m now used to having to deal with wondering if someone is expressing interest in me because of who I am or because of their own perception of me as an exotic fantasy, facing potential Asian fetishism in the dating pool is still upsetting and troubling. I don’t want to shame someone for having a preference–everyone has them–but I find it troubling if that preference is based in and promotes damaging perceptions that simplify and reduce living people down to bite-sized stereotypes.
When it comes to Asian guys participating in the American dating scene, the numbers as reported in 2014 by Christian Rudder of OKCupid are still unbalanced. I am not exempt from the behavior shown in the OKCupid blog’s surveys either. Until university, I had a lot of trouble seeing Asian males I met as anything other than a brother-type figure because the vast of my exposure to Asian males was my younger brother and my father. Having no Asian friends in school and no Asian men portrayed as attractive and viable romantic interests in media slowed me from being able to perceive any Asian person I met during university as a potential partner. It took three years of having male Asian friends and colleagues in university before I started to notice anyone of Asian descent as a viable option and go on dates with those people.
I consider myself lucky that my parents have no issue with me being in mixed race relationships. I consider myself lucky that my mother has told me she does not mind the race of the person I bring home as long as I am happy. My father has never commented explicitly, but he did tell me post-breakup that he really liked my Mexican-Italian ex (despite only ever having talked to him twice in a year and a half of us being together).
As I’ve entered my twenties, the barrier of romantic interests’ racist family members has become more frequent. Warnings about racist parents and grandparents have started to crop up on second or third dates after dinner or over coffee. These have primed me to fear the situation Nicole Chung recounts in “What Goes Through Your Mind: On Nice Parties and Casual Racism” at The Toast. The faux pas came from a friend and not from her SO’s parents–one can easily superimpose themselves in a same situation and cringe. I haven’t had to handle meeting a significant other’s racist extended or immediate family and hope I never have to. I imagine it would feel like a very all-or-nothing moment between setting expectations for demure submission or misbehavior for a future of tense family gatherings.
So far, the there have only been two non-standard, awkward racial incident I’ve had during my dating adventures. The first was when I was asked over dinner what my ethnic background was. When I said I was full Taiwanese, his response was, “No. You’re kidding. I don’t believe you.” I laughed incredulously along with him, but for other reasons. That’s not something you joke about. How would I be kidding? I think he was mostly shocked, and in the end that was a comment based in naivite. Dating him was quite an endearing experience.
The other was the comment, “since I met you, I have only been watching Asian porn.” It was so unexpected that I defaulted to laughing nervously and replying with a high-pitched, “really?” and let that thread of conversation die. I figure it was meant to be a compliment along the lines of “I haven’t stopped being able to think of you since we met,” but the delivery could have been directly that and not so race-focused, even if it was true. It was an absent-minded mistake, but still gave me a moment of pause. Dating him turned out to be a mistake.
I didn’t realize until that Discovery Night previously mentioned what a warped self-image it was that I had when it came to the ideas of ‘normal’ and ‘beautiful.’ It is a strange thing to realize at the age of 21 that the default image of what a person should look like in your head is nothing like the image of your own body. The default man and woman in my head start off as Caucasian, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is how many minorities in predominantly white societies consume stories. I have to make more of an extra effort to imagine book characters to look Asian, even when I know contextually that there is no way the characters could be white.
Tangent: This brings to mind the novel Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah, which is the first book I’d ever read that had a protagonist who might’ve looked like me. I was nine when I found this book, and since then it has never been difficult for me while growing up to find Chinese and Chinese-American lit when I wanted it. Not that relevant, but I thought I’d just plop in in here. Plop.
At the age of 21, the default/ideal template of a woman in my head looked nothing like me. Her features don’t include triangle eyebrows, so I plucked mine and filled in the gaps to make the right arch shape. Her nose isn’t flat and her eyes aren’t double-lidded, so I contoured around the bridge of my nose and applied a smokey eye look that worked around the double lids and not in tandem with them. Her face has a high brow, so I dab highlighter above my brow bone to bring dimension to my flat one. The end result made me look less Asian and closer to mixed race. That’s the face I imagine on myself when I picture myself, not the one that displays naturally when I leave the house without makeup on.
This is part of the reason why I have such a love for the character of Dr. Joan Watson in Elementary, the CBS modernization of Sherlock Holmes. Lucy Liu portraying a capable, self-actualizing, dimensional Asian-American woman changed the way I see myself. I finally understood on a more than intellectual level what it might feel like for ethnic children to see Disney princesses that have their skin tone or hair type. Seeing an example of an attractive and assertive Asian-American woman in a leading role who wasn’t exoticized, romantically idealized, or femme fatale’d triggered the start of a slow-building self-love that would have otherwise likely taken much longer to learn. Her position as a partner (and not apprentice to Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock) who has style, competence, and a backbone makes her a wonderful role model. What’s better is how the show actually doesn’t shy away from her experience growing up and actively includes a realistic, relatable relationship with her mother and brother as part her storyline. Bonus: they don’t white-wash her with the way her makeup is done either. Her features are balanced and her presentation is faithful.
Side Note: If you haven’t watched Elementary, you should. I’ve been missing out of the episodes this year since it doesn’t stream online to the UK, so I’ll have a great backlog of things to enjoy when I return to The States. If not for yourself then do it for me, please!
I don’t feel qualified to wax poetic on the subject of the difficulties Asian males face in the dating world. And while I haven’t seen it, it has been brought to my attention that the character Brian in Master of None is a refreshing portrayal of an Asian-American male that is not emasculating but rather even sexually empowering. I’ll have to watch it for myself sometime soon to see if that’s indeed true, but in the meantime I am happy that this character has had such a positive impact on some of its viewers.
Are Any Accomplishments Actually ‘Mine’?
It feels like there has recently been a surge of media content created that is related to the Asian-American experience either tangentially or directly. After reading Jenny Zhang’s piece in Rookie, “Far Away From Me,” I had a brief moment where I wondered if everything I’ve done well up to now was a product of that kind of making-up-for-being-inferior mindset.
Do I owe my work ethic to my parents? Does it lessen the value of my achievements because I had what some people call a “cultural advantage” as a child? It didn’t take long for me to to know how I felt about this one. A tendency toward pensive, introspective down time made finding this one easy for me. Someone could have had all of the same resources and parenting style that I received and fought harder against it or complied earlier to it and ended up with a fewer or greater set of achievements than I have at the same time.
Ultimately, I decided that it didn’t matter anymore because that’s something I’ve conquered, it doesn’t negate achievements, and I’m driven forward now by my own interests. Other people might not feel the same way about their situations, and all I can say to people in that position would be that I hope they find out what they want in life.
Being Neither Taiwanese Nor American Enough
Previously mentioned anecdotes of how strangers call out to me on the street should explain which box some people automatically place me in. On a visual level, I am not ‘American Enough’ to be identified as such on the street when I visit non-Asian countries with little minority representation. This isn’t from just the older locals here in Newcastle. Strangers from either side of my identity don’t know what to make of me.
On my first few days of classes, I sat near the Mandarin-speaking students in our lecture hall. I was purposefully shy and slow to make friends this time around, so when I finally introduced myself to some of the students, they all assumed that I couldn’t speak Mandarin and so they hadn’t tried. Now, I benefit from being able to practice my languages skills nearly daily, but during those silent first few days, it didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere in that room.
I still can’t imagine what it would be like to belong wholly to a majority group.
When I think about doing things that honor my cultural heritage, it sometimes feels like I’m not allowed to. I don’t feel Taiwanese enough, like my doing anything that brings attention to a minority culture would be cultural appropriation. It doesn’t help that when I travel back to Taiwan, people instantly know just by how I carry myself to treat me as part of the out group. It’s almost as though there is no majority culture that I will ever feel 100% identified with, so I need to make these spaces myself with the people who I’ve come to know personally.
Having The More Interesting Conversation
I actually spent new years eve and day discussing controversial topics with my downstairs neighbor’s boyfriend and I found the first step to giving any response is to calm yourself down and take a couple seconds before responding. smile emoticon I still get hurt when someone says racism isn’t a problem anymore or that reverse racism is a thing… I haven’t quite figured out how to eloquently debate those viewpoints yet.
Lurking in the social justice spaces on the internet has taught me a lot, but there are behaviors there that worry me. The hivemind’s treatment of dissenting views have brought me to the conclusion that the more interesting conversation isn’t the one where you try to convince each other to convert viewpoints or lecture into the echo chamber. The interesting and necessary conversation is a civil discussion the step past that of how to form policy. That’s the far more useful and less polarizing, less volatile discussion. So I try to redirect there now even if people don’t always follow me there or want to move to that space.
It’s harder to split up people in to the good guys and the bad guys this way. In a presumably adult conversation: would you want to?
I’ve also encountered the position from another minority that racism is a non-issue, because they hadn’t experienced anything “bad enough” firsthand. We live in the social construct and even if it is arbitrary to you, it isn’t necessarily arbitrary to the space you hope to be inside of or the space of the person on the other side of the argument. Not wanting to personally confirm the mass narrative if it doesn’t fit you is probably the most honest stance to take, but it is one that can be taken without dismissing other peoples’ struggles.
Let’s forget about going on holier-than-thou ego trips through shaming someone over how “ignorant” they are to the current problem. Delivery changes the way a message is received, and starting out with rhetoric that has an edge of attack toward the listener doesn’t help people learn more about you.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s quote resonantes with me here. Tact and respect are necessary to convey your point to someone on the fence or in opposition to your own. Slow down. Be considerate. There are better ways to make people listen when you speak.
That being said, I’m tired of being lectured to about a position I already believe in, spoken over to be made to feel ashamed when I try to get a word in edgewise about nuance. I don’t want to have another echo chamber that demonizes people for their missteps based in naivete. I’m tired of being spoken over before I get the chance to convey the whole thought. The conversation isn’t over when all parties have stated their final positions. Talking about policy is the next step and is the more interesting and useful conversation.
Grateful for This Experience
Race relations being a normal part of public discourse in the US and being a member of the ‘model minority’ kept me from experiencing any intentionally malicious or overtly sexual or violent harassment for a very long time. Moving here has been eye-opening in a way that I didn’t anticipate would take place. More and more, I feel lucky to have been born who I am and raised in this cross-cultural space. I got a shortcut to empathy and a first hand experience of the social struggles that are coalescing in this generation.
After a many years of being in the public school system, I am coming to love what it means to be Taiwanese-American and appreciating all of the values that come along with it that I got to sample and choose to keep. I all in all live a privileged life and have so much to be grateful for. Race issues thankfully do not make up very much of my life and my experience of the world, so a lot of the feelings I have are probably from another ‘privileged’ position of being a member of the model minority.
I’m running out of energy to continue writing more about this. I can’t believe I had so much to say and think about. I’m sure I missed a lot and probably misrepresentated myself a few times out of sheer exhaustion… but I’ve been writing this now for three days and I don’t think it will be useful to continue to try for longer than this. It will be interesting if anyone really reads to the end of this. Thank you, if you did. I hope this was a useful exercise in empathy for you too.