Daily Life · Mindful Living · Random Thoughts

Living as INFP: My Identity Crisis and the Story of the Empress Masako

I decided to share the story of my identity crisis here as I thought some of you might relate to it.

Ever since I got married to my American husband about 13 years ago, I was eager to be more assimilated into the American society and the culture. I wanted to be able to talk like him, communicate like him and work like him because despite the all of the problems the U.S. faced, at the end of the day, I loved the country so much, and when my time came, it was quite natural that I became a U.S. Citizen, renouncing my Japanese nationality as the duel citizenship is illegal in Japan.

In spite of my strong commitment to dedicate myself to the county and the aspiration to be like a real American who grew up in the U.S., my work constantly demanded the Japanese part of me as a teacher and a translator, which eventually made me feel suffocated as it seemed like the American society was telling me I was not good enough as an American and I felt guilty that I was not Japanese enough as I was merely looking at my motherland from the outside for over a decade.

Of course, I could have applied for any other jobs that were detached from anything related to Japan but I could not find anything that exceeded the salary I was receiving, so I went back to college to prove to myself that my English and communication skills were still good enough to professionally survive in the mainstream society here in the U.S. without selling the Japanese part of me, and I finished the program but the job hunt sucked, my career transition failed and I was back to the suffering phase from the suffocating feelings again.

One day, as I was doing some research for my work, I came across the interview of the Empress Masako and I was completely fascinated by how beautiful her Japanese language was with her sophisticated and humble manners. The aura she carried as the empress was so stunning that I was genuinely grateful that she was representing Japan. And, I suddenly remembered how she grew up abroad as the daughter of the Japanese diplomat and she eventually ended up graduating from Harvard University, Tokyo University, and Oxford University, working as the diplomat for Japan.

She met the emperor while she was at Oxford University and decided to marry him as he proposed her, saying that he would protect her with all of his might for her entire lifetime, which was such a romantic love story. And then I also recalled my former student back in DC, who has worked with her when she was the diplomat, once told me that the way she talked and acted was totally like the American who grew up in the U.S.

The realization that she was perfectly nailing both of the identities as the Japanese and the American was astonishing. In order to be more Americanized, you do not have to be less Japanese. it is possible to be both in the authentic and the natural way. However, it is not so easy to acquire the adequate balance as the nature of the culture of the two countries is so different, but when it is achieved, the true virtue can be formed, which can be incredibly powerful in a very positive way.

The notion hit me like an epiphany and she instantly became my ultimate role model even though I have no brain or elegance like she has, and the fact lifted all of the weight off my shoulders, and the suffocating feelings disappeared.

When I look at the photos of the cherry blossoms I took back in DC, now I reflect them as my new goal here in the U.S. The cherry blossoms in DC were gifted by the Japanese government over a century ago and they continue to be cherished and loved by the people in the U.S. Now I wonder how amazing it would be if I could become such a being like that here in the U.S. in the future.

Mindful Living

The New Life Healed By the Power of Nature

It has been over three months ever since we moved to Colorado Springs from the Washington D.C. area and two months ever since we moved in to the new house we bought, which was the very hectic and stressful period even though it was supposed to be the exciting time to start the new life.

Despite the positive mindset, living in the hotel rooms for two months, dealing with the tons of paperworks to buy the house while looking for a new job in the new area took so much out of me. Each time I received the rejection email after applying for a job and seeing my friends, old classmates and co-workers upgrading their careers on Linkedin, I felt as if a part of me was sinking and I was overwhelmed with the pressure like our entire life was falling onto my shoulders like the countless big rocks from the cliff. When I realized my career transition did not succeed, the source of my confidence completely vanished, as though my job defined everything that I was, feeling every inch of my body screaming that I completely messed up.

What eventually healed me from the awful feelings was the beautiful nature of Colorado and the unconditional love our dog, Jasmine, gave us no matter what. Jasmine continued to love every version of me, which meant so much to me to regain my confidence and the morning walks with her refreshed my mind every day. The gorgeous mountain view and the beautiful sunset that you could witness here almost on a daily basis made me reassure I already had everything I needed, feeling how stunning American nature truly was.

Even though I kept telling myself and writing here how material wealth did not contribute to your happiness from a certain point, I was trapped again. The idea of not being able to contribute to fulfill the responsibilities to pay the bills and the mortgage made me feel like the total failure as a spouse and an adult in this society. And the worst part of all was that it was all in my head. Is this the typical INFP symptom? I was just hurting myself by being overly scared for our future and I was mad at myself that I was not becoming who I thought I was supposed to be.

Now I clearly know once again that all I truly need is the happiness for our family by being able to embrace the daily dose of the amazing cappuccino and the beautiful nature Colorado offers, responding to the love Jasmine gives us.

Shinto religion teaches us that “nature has a sense of power and presence that is inescapable and beyond human control or understanding,” thus we have to give in to the power of nature by accepting and appreciating the way it is. Now that I am back to work again, I should not forget that all I need is just to breathe the nature and relax.