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  • Writer's pictureAya

When you feel incompetent in your host country

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

I relocated to the US in June 2014, so it’s been the whole SIX years since then. I am content with my current life and appreciate my family, friends, neighbors, and all the other people and groups who have accepted me.

We are still affected hugely by COVID-19 and on top of that, there are huge demonstrations against racism caused by the death of George Floyd. The other day, my husband, who is a Polish/Italian American, asked me where I felt I was belonging to in this country.

I thought for a minute or two and realized that after six years, still it feels foreign to me in this country.

It was not a shocking realization nor a sad reality. It was just my honest thought. I do not belong here. I am a Japanese and probably will be the same even I keep living in this country with my family another six years or more.

Even though I do not feel that I belong here as a citizen, I don’t feel incompetent. My thoughts and ideas regarding the current situation might be irrelevant and/or sound strange for some people. However, because I don’t share the same background and have the same education with many people in this country, I have to put extra effort to navigate the current situation. But I don't think it means I am not capable, because I might be able to ask interesting questions and provide unique observations. I need to be careful how to navigate conversations, but there must be a real value of me being here.

I believe it’s diversity. To have someone whose foundation and basic understanding are different from norm creates chaos AND creativity. It’s chaotic, so you need to spend extra time and put extra effort to understand each other. You might find there are some points that you find impossible to understand fully. But it’s OK. During or after the long deep discussion, there is a hope that you can find something new. Something you can’t come up with by yourself.

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

Do you feel alienated in this country? Do you feel you are not good enough?

I believe you don’t have to assimilate in your host country in the 21st century. It was very important 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago, but I don’t believe it is true anymore.

What would you feel if you believe you can offer something to your host country without changing who you are?


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