Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stir Crazy Part 2: I can feel a change

So, at work Wednesday I tortured myself with trying to figure out why I have been feeling sort of off balance recently. I thought about what exactly is causing me to feel such restlessness and aggression. What is causing me to fall into a constant state of mania. Well, after considering all the different angles I think I have came up with an answer. I think I am starting to feel the effects of being a minority.

Before I go on, please do not confuse me with the Debito crowd. I am not the kind of person who wines about not having the same rights as the majority. I know that I will forever be gaijin(outsider) as long as I live in Japan. I have no desire to change Japanese society. My native culture is just too different for the Japanese to fully understand. Rather, I am pretty sure that carrying the status of `outsider` on my shoulders everyday is starting to tear at me mentally.

I have never experience standing out simply because my DNA is slightly different. I have always dealt with being different on a social level; not ethnic. Everyday people notice me just because my skin does not have a golden/pale yellow hue. It is strange for me to be stared at in such a way. I try to blow it off but I think, deep down inside, it gets under my skin a little. I am not bothered by the simple act of sharing, but the context in which people share is what I think is starting to rub me raw. When it happens I do not make a fuss, because it happens all the time. There are days when it actually serves as a boost to my ego. You know, the whole somebody noticed me thing, that makes you like you at least exist. Yet, I think being so different day in and day out is causing some kind of mental conflict in my subconscious.

Considering that people from the United States make up only 2.4% of gaijin living in Japan, it is safe to say that I am a rare breed in the land of the raising sun. I grew up being in the majority. I never thought about the stress of being a minority. In fact, I always assumed that I would be in the majority. I never developed any copping method for dealing with having a minority status. I had several friends who had minority status in the states. They never talked to me about the experience of being a minority. It was just one of those things we silently agreed never to talk about. I wish I would have asked a few questions becasuse now I find myself with many unanswered questions.

So, what I decided to do is accept my minority status and wear my gaijin badge with pride. It is kind of fun to be in the minority. I get away with stuff that Japanese people can never do. I can say things that are taboo for Japanese people to even utter. The kind of fun I can enjoy maybe out of reach for some Japanese because they are bound my society rules much more strictly than me. I get to be funny and so K.Y. without much negative effect. It is not so bad once I just consider the advantages of being a minority. I am going to have fun with my minority status.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the club. I'm a Japanese living in Europe for more than 15 years without so much a problem.
I think a difference between those who choose to stay abroad and those who choose not to is whether you can feel at home with foreignness. I felt foreign in Japan as well as I do in Europe. That's what I am wherever I am. I feel good with that. I just combine all the good things of every culture while putting away what I don't like. This way, I create my universe and I carry that wherever I live. That's an utmost luxury for me.

Benjamin L. Belcher said...

Some days the stares drive me mad, some days they amuse me. All I know is I ain't in Kansas no more, and I respect that I'm a fish out of water in their eyes.

Ride the wave!