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  • Writer's pictureMarcia Marshall


How to Accept Who You Are: A Story of Self-Discrimination

As a native Japanese, I moved to the US when I was twenty-three years old. When I was in Japan, I was an English language major at a local university and thought I was fluent in the language because it seemed I was much more fluent than other Japanese people around me. However,as soon as my arrival in the US, it turned out that I was not able to understand almost any scenes of conversations done in English.

So, here is what was going on: When I was in Japan, I believed I was fluent; but after I came to the US, the reality proved that I was not fluent. What kind of gap was this? This was the gap between my identity: me as being fluent on one hand, and me as not fluent on the other hand. That’s the gap between my belief in my fluency and my reality of non-fluency. It was this gap of my identity that caused a great amount of everyday stress and suffering.

But after a while, I discovered that the cause of my stress and suffering was not really my linguistic limitation itself, but rather it was my discrimination against such linguistic limitations. In other words, I did not want to accept the fact that my command of the oral English skills was not good enough to get by in the US. I was not strong enough to face my reality.

Unlike my belief, in reality, being not fluent was precisely a real aspect about myself back then, but I wanted to discriminate that particular part of myself so that I can pursue my illusion of preserving myself as a fluent English speaker. That way I was trying to control my own identity and to match that up with the reality. This is how my self-discrimination led to an experience of suffering.

A couple years later, I finally admitted my linguistic limitations and hence my identity as a non-fluent English speaker. It was finally from that time on when I was much less stressed out and started to enjoy my learning of English in the US. When I could not understand words of a cashier, I asked what was stated, and sometimes asked some questions about their usages of English vocabs. Then paradoxically, a real path towards becoming a fluent English speaker was finally opened up for me.

This was interesting. As soon I started to let it go, it immediately started to come to me. That’s the power of Buddhist teachings.

Kyohei expands on his story here:

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