Hello, Rei here.
Today, I’d like to write about me who believed that I can’t be weak and that I must always be strong because I’m a minority.
Recently, my mental health wasn’t too great: I was stuck in depression while questions such as ‘why?’ and ‘how come?’ circulated in my brain. It was difficult to get out of bed and conversing with people had become somewhat tedious. This wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it had definitely gotten a lot worse ever since I graduated high school. I’m sure that everyone has gotten down in the dumps before, but what I experienced felt more suffocating. I figured that living like this was too much to handle, so I sought counseling and started journaling out my emotions. It took some time, however, I tried creating a space where I could vent my emotions every day. In doing this, I realized that the reason why I was so distressed was because I was extremely fixated on my mixed-racial identity.
To live in Japan as a mixed-racial person comes with many emotionally taxing and unpleasant experiences. I don’t wish for you to feel sorry for me but just to understand that this is the truth as I see it. By putting up with and holding out against these experiences, there were times where I was needlessly tolerant and where I felt like I had to be strong because I believed that I wasn’t allowed to feel defeated. I realized that I was trying so hard in so many different areas like English and sports just because “I’m mixed-racial, I’m different, and I have to be able to do these things.” It’s great to give your 1000% in things because you like them, but for me, I did this to fit the stereotype of “mixed” people, which is why it exhausted me so much. I had forgotten the things that I actually enjoyed doing and the things that I wanted to do for myself, all because I decided on whether to do things or not by following the standards of my mixed-racial identity. Then it hit me. Maybe I don’t have to be able to speak English. Maybe I don’t have to carry on both of my parent’s cultures. Maybe I don’t have to be able to run fast. Maybe I don’t have to look at everything through the lens of my identity as a mixed-racial person.
I decided to think of it like this: there are many things that make up who I am, and within them, I have my mixed-racial identity. Of course, there are some people who really emphasize their mixed-racial identity, while others don’t; the importance varies from person to person. If you find that you’re suffering because of your mixed-racial identity, I want you to know that before a “mixed-racial person,” you are first and foremost a human being who has had a “mixed racial” label stuck onto them. If being mixed-racial is what is causing you to feel hurt, exhausted, angry, or upset, there’s no need to feel as if you have to suppress these feelings and tough it out. In my case, I was ignoring the emotions I was truly feeling, and before I knew it, I only knew the “strong me.” I only knew how to live by putting up a strong front, and I realized that even when I was actually hurt, there was a part of me that didn’t allow me to voice my complaints or stand my ground: I would always be in a bright and happy mood. I’m not only living as a minority, but I’m also living as a singular human being, and there are definitely people out there who’ll embrace my weaknesses.
In today’s society, people who are disadvantaged aren’t allowed to be “weak.” Maybe that’s why, I thought, it’s so important for us “weak people” to come together and support one another. Recently, somebody told me, “you’re fine the way you are; there’s no need to try and do out-of-the-ordinary things just because you’re of mixed race, and there’s definitely no need to hide your sensitivities.” I felt really relieved to hear all this.
You are fine the way you are.
About Rei Narain
Hello, Rei here.
I have been living in Japan for eleven years now. My father is Japanese and my mother is from Mauritius. I am currently on a break from school, so I am learning about cures for depression and dabbling into things that interest me. In the future, I would like to go to university (in person, not online), and study in an environment where there are lots of people around. I’m sure everyone is going through changes during this corona period, but please try to prioritize your mental health as much as you can ;)
Translated by Ariel Tjeuw
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphic by Maya Kubota