This initial rejection took a hard toll on my health. Because of the financial distress, I lost weight and sleep. Keep in mind that during my naturalization application process, I was still studying in a university, paying rent, and working part time. 2011 was the most stressful year yet. But hey you know what—I’m a tough guy. I recovered from being rejected by my peers, by a childhood crush, by boyfriends who cheated on me, by countless college admissions and job interviewers. All of those arduous experiences truly made me stronger.
It took about another year for me to reclaim faith in myself and my love in this country. I submitted another application and went through the same steps again towards becoming a citizen. Again, I paid my fee, skipped a few classes in order to make 3 trips to Atlanta like what I did last time. This year, however, came a new surprise. Georgia was experiencing a highly unusual below freezing temperature, and the roads were covered in frost due to a freak ice storm during early spring of 2012. Growing up in the tropical Taiwan, and then Georgia, I did not anticipate the icy road condition for one of my trips to Atlanta that I must traverse to get my finger prints done. The line that day was three times as bad as the previous time I came. Many people had their appointments deferred due to the icy condition. However, I remained stalwart in my resolve to become a U.S. citizen. The weather and the length of the line did not faze me one bit….. I waited in line under freezing temperature in Georgia for 4 hours before I could get my finger prints done in mere 15 minutes. My Black Friday shopping experience wasn’t even as bad.
July 12, 012, I was back to Atlanta again and interviewed with the USCIS agent, where I answered questions, to claim that I had never been a terrorist or prostitute. I then took an oral test on the U.S. history, government, and geography. I answered 3 out of 5 questions correctly…had I missed one more question; I would have failed the test. After doing it all again, and waited in the waiting room along with many other immigrants for a few hours, I was notified that I have been admitted to the oath ceremony where I would be receiving my naturalization certificate; in other words, I was finally able to be granted a U.S. citizenship. That moment was such a relief.
July 13, 2012—I took my oath as a U.S. citizen and received my naturalization certificate. During the oath ceremony, I had flashback of my childhood and all the good, bad, and the ugly I have witness in the U.S. The feeling that was within me was both excitement and a little anger from all the process that I had to go through to just get to this moment of excitement. Since the early 90s until 2012, I finally shook off the stigma and the imagery of being an immigrant, and became recognized as a U.S. citizen. It was a joyful moment after so many years of hardship and doubts of uncertainty.
U.S. citizenship is something that many people were born with, yet my persistent love and dedication to this county took me so many years to earn it. Because of that, sometimes I feel more American than those who were born here. I can now say that I stand on equal ground with my peers for I truly am an American.