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Finding My Place

The Logical Heart Knows Best

I wonder if it’s a universal condition…I wonder if everyone feels “different” and like an outsider at various times in their lives? Especially during our formative years? What role do the adults and society play and how great is the impact on our self-esteem and our development? Do most people rely on the physical world and believe what they see, believe what people say, and do as the truth? Or are most of us able to maintain a spiritual outlook where we rely on our inner truth and knowing? Do we believe what we individually think about ourselves and the world, above all else? Is it even possible for a child to keep an unbiased self-concept of worthiness and belonging no matter what? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could learn throughout our whole lives…how to keep a loving view of ourselves, no matter what? What would it take to achieve this? Is it even possible?

When integration/desegregation was beginning, I was born in the deep south. Being a child, I didn’t consider people’s differences. I really never questioned my identity beyond being a little girl until my classmate in second grade asked me if I was white or black? I didn’t know how to answer, but then I was curious and tried to figure it out. In actuality, I was neither and there were no others in my school like me. That is when I began feeling like I didn’t belong because I had no others who looked like me and didn’t know the answer. Was I black or white?

My parents were an interracial couple, my mother was Caucasian/Native American, and my father was Japanese American. My mother told me later that people would constantly ask her if she had adopted me. Funnily when I had my daughter, people thought I adopted her because she had blonde hair and blue eyes. My mother and I both had dark hair and brown eyes. I am always asked about my heritage and now it makes for interesting conversation. Yet in my youth, it was confusing for me. It didn’t help that racial prejudice was commonplace, even in my family. I remember when I asked if my best friend could come to my birthday party (she was African American) there was an awkward silence, then an automatic no, it saddened me, but I was too little to question it. In hindsight, I saw it for what it was. And later, in a singing/dancing group in high school, the director partnered me with the only other non-white person and my parents did something about that as well. It mortified me.

My peers would tease me, maybe it was innocent/ignorant/playful on their parts…but they asked if I knew karate or how to cook egg rolls, would assume I was good at math, would speak in a sing-song voice saying “ching chong” etc. and would pull their eyelids slanted and buck their teeth out and call me yellow, jap, chink, gook…would inevitably do “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these.” And “Me Chinese, me play joke, me put pee pee in your coke.” And as I got older, people would call me “Kim” and ask me if I knew so and so who was Asian or if I was related to the people who owned the nail salon. Actually, this really was minor. It puzzled me, but I didn’t care about that. What I wanted was to feel like I belonged, that there were others like me, where I was “normal.” There was a joke my stepmom would make about how she was “regular” and we were not. they even made us get perms at one point, to be more, “regular.”

I recall a performance in New Orleans I was in. I swear there was a doppelgänger in a Filipino choir. One girl looked so much like me. It riveted and excited me. There were others like me. Until then, I identified with the “Indians” I would always choose to be “Indian” when playing “Cowboys and Indians” with my little brother. Not very PC these days, eh? King Tut was someone I looked like. My eyes were like his. I loved Egyptian everything and even got to see the King Tutankhamun exhibit 1976. I was in heaven, the best thing ever…there I belonged…in my little girl’s view of the world. I clung to what at least looked like me. Blonde hair, blue-eyed, freckled, skinny, long-legged, all-American, apple pie, Barbie, girl next door was the ideal here, at least that’s what I thought.

In junior high, finally, I encountered others in proximity who resembled me. Two Vietnamese girls rode the bus with me, in my neighborhood, and there was one Chinese classmate. What a relief. I was not a lone wolf. Except, they were not Japanese, and I was half, or Hapa to boot. I still felt iffy about my place, what to identify with, and did it really matter? Did my biological makeup and physical appearance matter? Did others really view me in an “other” light? What was I so concerned about, trying to figure out who I was most similar to and where I belonged? Were human beings really all that different from one another? Why was it so important to me to feel like part of a group or category where we had commonalities, where they accepted me in every way? What was driving this need to fit in?

I was always thankful for the summers we spent with my Japanese grandparents in California, where my beautiful grandmother graciously cared for us and our cousins. We had sooooo much fun! It was absolutely amazing, some of the best memories of my life. I felt like I belonged in physical appearance and all, except for my southern accent, which would disappear by the end of the summer when we were saying “you guys” instead of “y’all.” They would give us such crap about our accents 🙂 Was good fun.

Another place I felt totally embraced and appreciated was my maternal grandparent’s house, also with my cousins, aunts & uncles. We could be who we were, to play and be kids, no worries. I splashed in the bayou, rode inside a giant spool, got shot with a BB gun, but it was damn fun and high adventure, always in Gonzales. We would play, roam, tussle about, explore and sing, put on shows, so much fun. I never felt out of place and felt free and loved, no matter what with my grandmothers. They were my heroes, and I aspire to embody the love, acceptance, and freedom they instilled in me during the brief time I was graced with them.

As I became a teen, I would look for role models in fashion magazines. It was the ultimate to emulate the models and fashions in Vogue. But I liked Seventeen magazine and identified with Phoebe Cates. As an adult, I learned why she was also part Asian.

In high school, my bestie was an Asian Indian from Trinidad. She and her large family, with all sisters, welcomed me as one of their own. I also felt like I belonged. Their home was an oasis, a haven of unconditional love. Laughter and joy ruled in that household. And we all were not “regular” in appearance, heh.

So I never really figured it all out. I am still puzzled by the question, am I black or white? I love the answer, “I am a human being.” Why does it matter? Why do we have to categorize, judge, & define everything? It’s all made up, anyway? Why all these rules and separations? Isn’t everything a creation and we just apply labels to them? We also made language up. Why not live more energetically from spirit, from love, and let go of all these definitions?

As children, we start off so free, everything just is and we get to be and enjoy, without having to sort everything out and act accordingly. We can make things up as we go and it is so much more beautiful and enjoyable than having to stay within these arbitrary lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, and rules of grammar, heh.

Everything organic exists and we define what we see and experience and, as members of groups/families/society, we believe what they expose us to. And we are biologically hard-wired to become cohesive and work together. So much of our need to belong is not within our conscious awareness but driven by innate biology.

We are all energy, creations, everything is spirit, and we are all connected in the oneness of love. So why does it matter so much what I look like, or whom I love? Can’t I make sense of things without having to make something better than something else because that’s what is the majority? Why is it so important to be part of the pack? We all exist and are inherently worthy and an inseparable part of the whole of existence and can never not belong 🙂 So we always belong in spirit no matter how things may appear.

I find my place every time I tap into my soul’s knowing, this center of infinite love from deep within, which is connected with and encompasses everyone and everything. I am spirit and there’s nowhere to belong but right here, right now, so how can I feel I am “other” or not enough? I am just as precious as any creation because I am. All of us exist, we are equal in worthiness. There is no difference, there is no separation. We all belong, no matter what. And nothing can diminish what we truly are, no matter what trials and tribulations we muck through in our experiences. We are energy, we are love, and we can be nothing else. Our minds and labels tell us these delineations, demarcations, differentiations, discriminations, hierarchies, judgments, and limitations…no? But our true nature defies limitation…therein lies the paradox.

So we grow up and now everything is divvied up and categorized in nice little boxes for us. These different niches and grooves to fit into, yay? Really? Do you mean to say that if I don’t look or act a certain way, I will not enjoy the privileges equally with others who do fit in? Well…yes, that’s how it works in some aspects of this world and yes, I take it personally because it is not loving. But I can create my loving experience through my perspective and by choosing to forgive. By creating changes from within and then by taking inspired actions which help promote more equality, freedom, oneness, unity, and love.

Like, wouldn’t it be nice if they taught us more about living from this infinite, all-knowing connection of spirit from the get-go? Maybe then there would be less fear, less separation, more limitlessness, more love, more belonging 🙂 More being and less effort/struggling because we would not be so afraid and our actions would support abundance for all. More of our true nature shining through. My place is always wherever I am because that is all there ever is. I am always home and always belong. I carry home with me, I AM home. We are pure, precious, boundless, brilliant, oneness…love. Why not embody it by dropping all these pretenses? There’s no place like home. And we are it.

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Michelle Miyagi
Hi! I was an RN, BSN in mental/behavioral health for 27 years. Now I'm helping empower caring people like me to prioritize themselves by maintaining healthier boundaries for more freedom, peace, and joy. I am also active in Long Covid advocacy.

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