Let me try to explain why that is. Or at least why I think that is. I believe everyone lives with a numerous identities and they don't have any problem with having them.
For example, one might identify himself as a gay man first, and then as an engineer, and lastly as a Canadian.
Another might identify herself as a mother first and then a British.
In another words, when you were asked, "Who are you?" or "What are you?", what would be your answer? What would be the first thing that comes to your mind?
So... why is this "identity" so troubling to me?
I have always had two names growing up. One is Japanese name and the other is Korean name. My father's side of the family would call me in Korean name and everyone else would call me in Japanese name.
If that didn't confuse me, I also had to behave differently in front of my father's side of the family or vice-versa. At dinner table, I always had to watch out how I eat or else I knew I could embarrass my parents.
You see, in Korea, we don't pick up the bowl in which rice or soup is served while in Japan we do, or else someone will tell you not to eat like a dog.
In Korea, we use spoon more often than a pair of chopsticks. It's easier to eat rice and soup with a spoon (isn't it?) but spoon isn't usually served in Japan. There are many more of these slight differences in culture between the two that kept me confused. Some of them I didn't even understand why. I don't think I understand them even now.
What about in schools?
Well, my experiences were sometimes quite ugly. It was because of where we lived at that time.
Right, my family lived in an area where Korean people lived. It was obvious to the locals. The road wasn't even paved. Yep, streets were all dirt. Even toilets were communal and septic (not connected to the municipal sewage system). We lived there until I was 6 or 7. Even if I made friends at school, they will not stay friends with me after a few days. This is honest truth. Their parents told them not to be friend with me because I lived in THAT neighbourhood... It was such a shocking event not only to me but also to my parents so much so that we moved out of that area soon after I asked them why they had said that. Obviously, I didn't know what sort of neighbourhood we were living.
In high school, a student, a total stranger, came up to me one day and told me, not "asked me" but TOLD me, "you ARE NOT Japanese", pointing a finger at me.
I wondered what the heck I did! I didn't even know her and no one in my class knew of my family history. Well, teachers knew but that was it.
You see, my self-identity began with a question of whether I was/am Japanese or Korean (or better an alien?!?) at an early age and continued to be questioned by everyone around, including myself.
To make the matters worse, my grandparents sent me to go to Korean school on weekends from age 6 till 15. We learn the language, history, and customs. Boy, that was something so confusing. I had fun being with friends but the background of these kids at that school isn't quite the same as mine. Both of their parents were Korean decent but mine weren't, were they. Here again I'm not 100% belonging to the mass. They weren't mean to me or anything but I always felt that there was this wall between them and me, I felt. I never felt I "belonged" to be a Japanese nor Korean.
And shit hit the roof when I began realising that I might be gay. If I didn't feel belonged to anything or anyone, this questioning of my own sexuality just did me in. I began hating myself for being too different from everyone around...