Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life\u2019s sentiments. Source: Unsplash I\u2019m Afghani by ethnicity, but was born and raised in Brunei. (Where my kuih tapak kuda squad at?)\u00a0 I came to Malaysia some years ago for further study, and found so many similarities in language, culture, people, and tastes. Despite this, I\u2019m still seen as a foreigner, no matter how I try to fit in. Having been taken as a foreigner my whole life, I\u2019ve become quite numb to a lot of discrimination, judgmental comments, undercutting remarks, sneering, jeering; you name it, I\u2019ve seen it. Now, I usually just smile through it and move on (my go-to power move). But there\u2019s one thing I could never get myself to shake off: \u201cThe Stare\u201d. What is \u201cThe Stare\u201d? Every foreigner who isn\u2019t blonde with blue eyes or generally considered attractive (like a 9\/10) has been privy to the stare.\u00a0 You know, the one where you feel like you made a mistake getting on that train, or shouldn\u2019t have bothered being nice to the hawker lady downtown.\u00a0 What is the stare? Aiyo, you guys know lah. The one where the old aunties and uncles stare like they just saw an alien or something. Mega oof moment, my friend. Every time I get on a bus or the train, I do try to smile at the people who make eye contact with me. In return, they stare back at me like they\u2019re peering into a bottomless abyss. I\u2019ll be honest, it feels absolutely demoralizing. Ah hello, auntie? Stare somewhere else boleh tak? Geez. And it gets worse if I dare sit next to someone on the train. It\u2019s like I\u2019m the coronavirus and they\u2019re trying to avoid me. I\u2019ve tested my theory, and it\u2019s not just my imagination. Source: Unsplash I\u2019ve had experiments done with my foreigner friends and local friends. They\u2019d watch me from afar and make their own judgment calls after seeing what goes down.\u00a0 Once, I sat next to this attractive middle-aged Chinese lady on my way to work. There were no other seats available and I had 11 stops to go.\u00a0 About 5 minutes in, I was peacefully reading my book, 12 Rules for Life (a great read) and ignored my surroundings.\u00a0 My friend later tells me she was shooting me side-glares the whole time, until someone got up from a few seats away. The moment they did, she launched herself at it and sat far away from me. You see what I\u2019m getting at? It may be a subtle, ninja-like move to you, but we see it clear as day. We just do our best not to let it affect us.\u00a0 But if I\u2019m completely honest? It does. Every day.\u00a0 I\u2019ve been living in KL for the better half of 5 years now, and I\u2019ve mostly acclimated to these little jabs. If my experience has been mildly unpleasant, my African friends have told me stories that make mine look like happy-ending fairy tales. Stories of being shut out by landlords, roughed up by authorities, and more.\u00a0 That\u2019s just scratching the surface.\u00a0 Ironically, Malaysians living abroad get a similar treatment themselves Source: Unsplash I asked a friend who lives overseas how people see him. He\u2019s not even brown, but his experience has been (sadly) unsurprisingly similar: \u201cI get called chinky (a slur for a person of Chinese descent in the US) and people make slit eyes at me every now and then. I don\u2019t let it get to me, but it does make me realise that these Westernised countries? They\u2019re not all that progressive.\u201d It\u2019s funny how foreigners like myself are coming to KL to make better lives for ourselves, whereas all KL-ites want to do is leave for better prospects elsewhere.\u00a0 Meanwhile, the Malaysians abroad know exactly how it feels to be a foreigner that\u2019s treated like a stepping stone for others.\u00a0 Here\u2019s the thing: I love Malaysia. I love how a nation can be so rich in history, culture, religion, and experiences. I\u2019ve read through some of the nation\u2019s history. \u00a0There are some inspiring stories to take heed of and incorporate into our lives today. Like how an Indian couple had a Malay-themed wedding, which even made it into the book of records.\u00a0\u00a0 Despite these stories of cooperation and harmony, it comes as a surprise that some Malaysians haven\u2019t gotten over the whole race-religion thing. Aduh, mana 1Malaysia, boss?\u00a0 It\u2019s good to be proud of where you come from. But what happens when patriotism turns into blind nationalism?\u00a0 You know, when people walk around wearing their flags on everything, chanting things like \u201cMalaysia is for (insert ethnicity here)\u201d. For me, that is an outdated ideology to hold onto.\u00a0 We\u2019re living in a world that\u2019s becoming more globalized and connected and one united nation. Isn\u2019t it time we think of ourselves as citizens of the world? It\u2019s 2020. I feel that people have more similarities than differences now, because we are becoming increasingly exposed to so many cultures and people.\u00a0 It would be quite a shame to let the opportunity to learn about the world and other people go to waste. Let\u2019s not repeat the mistakes of the past If we really are to move forward in today\u2019s time, we have to better understand our histories, have open dialogues about the real issues we have.\u00a0 We need to analyse our microaggressions, and ask ourselves: \u201cWhy do I feel distrustful of this person?\u201d Is it because I see the news of terrorists, refugees, and foreign workers, and they look scary?\u00a0\u00a0 Rather than allowing inherent stereotypes like, \u201cChinese people are greedy\u201d or \u201cIndian people are smelly\u201d or \u201cMalay people are lazy\u201d to dictate our behaviours, is there a more human-like way to go about it? I believe Malaysians know very well what the human spirit is capable of, both for good and for bad. I truly believe, even though I\u2019m orang antarabangsa, that Malaysia has immense innate potential to be an economic powerhouse and an amazing cultural hub.\u00a0\u00a0 Until then, I\u2019m going to continue smiling at people in public, because at the end of the day, I believe I\u2019m doing my part in helping to end this cycle of misunderstanding and baseless hate. One step at a time, and we\u2019ll get there.\u00a0 For more stories like this, read: The Racism I Experienced Dating In Malaysia and I\u2019ve Been a Foreigner in Malaysia for a Decade \u2014 Here\u2019s Why I'm Leaving. If you like what you read, follow us on Facebook & Instagram.