To this day, I wake up at times, look in the mirror, and just stare, obsessed with the idea that the person I am in my head is something entirely different than what everyone else sees. That the way I look will prevent me from doing the things I want; that there really are sneetches with stars and I’m not one of them. I touch my face, I feel my skin, I check my color every day, and I swear it all feels right. But then someone says something and that sense of security and identity is gone before I know it.“Fresh Off the Boat” by Eddie Huang
A couple nights ago, I was thinking about how I’d mixed up correlation and causation in some of my self-reflection recently.
Previously, I was reflecting on my own and with a therapist on my perceived lack of belonging. Looking back at school, I always felt like I was being pushed away as the “other”.
To my Asian friends, I was always white. To my white friends, I was always Asian. In a majority straight population, I was always different. I was never seen as one of the guys in gym class, but I also stood out when I hung out with the girls.
And I thought this must be why I feel like I don’t belong—because I experienced all these instances of not belonging when I was younger.
I saw a causal relationship.
But that doesn’t follow logically.
Maybe I have it backwards. Maybe something happened earlier that led to my feeling like I didn’t belong, and that is why I interpreted those things that way, and that’s why those things stick out in my memory.
Or maybe they appear to be correlated, but they’re not really correlated at all. Maybe it’s just confirmation bias or something else.
But then taking a step back, maybe it doesn’t really matter. This is probably just another good place to practice nihilism and existentialism.
By nihilism, I refer to recognizing that my feeling like I don’t belong is a feeling—that’s it. It’s a body sensation that I do not find pleasurable. But it’s ultimately meaningless. There’s nothing really there saying that I don’t belong.
By existentialism, I refer to the ability to create belonging. The nihilism has granted that there’s no lack of belonging there to hold me back. So if I choose to see things this way, perhaps I will start to observe things to confirm that belief instead.
I’ve been exercising a lot since moving. Something that I still want to build on is mindfulness and affirmation practices. Perhaps this would be a good thing to start applying those to.