In between places

Cat people will enjoy (and understand) this video. [link broken]

Since I started working, I’ve noticed I often feel uneasy. I’m pretty confident in myself these days, and I’m definitely happy not to be in school anymore, but still I feel uneasy. It’s the kind of anxiety I experience when I have a presentation coming up and I don’t know what to say, or need to go someplace new and am not sure what kind of people I’ll meet.

For the first couple of weeks, I attributed this anxious feeling to the sheer newness of everything I was taking on. I was taking painting and drawing classes, which were new to me, so I was doing badly and being self-conscious about it. I had just started my job and didn’t quite know the ropes yet. Naturally I’d be a bit nervous. But now it’s been a month since I started working, and even longer since I started taking art classes, and I’m fairly comfortable in all of these. So why can’t I shake this feeling?

Yesterday it finally hit me that what I’m going through is a constant state of outsiderness. Much as I disliked school and felt like I didn’t belong there, at least I had my cohort, and we’d gone through a lot together. Now, in everything I do, I’m in some way removed from everyone else who’s doing it with me. At LA City College, where I’m taking my painting class, I’m not an undergrad like everyone else. I think I might even have the same number of degrees as my teacher, which is a very weird thought. So I don’t really belong there. At UCLA Extension, where I’m taking drawing, most of my classmates are older and are just taking the class for fun, whereas I really want to make art a part of my life. So I feel a bit out of place there, too. At work (and yes I know I still need to explain my job), I’m at a branch library, but I’m not on their staff. Plus, my office is separate from the rest of the public area as well as the staff workroom. So my isolation at my job is physical, too. The program that does employ me is located at the Central branch downtown, so I’m not really of that staff either. I still talk to my cohort, but I’m no longer on their track. Most of my friends are in school, so my schedule is no longer like theirs. And even when I visit my family in San Jose, I don’t live there anymore, so it’s not home in the same way. Despite my relative comfort with each of my circles, no place feels quite right any longer, except our apartment — and I’m there less often than ever before.

This floating state of non-belonging isn’t really so bad, but I think it puts me a little on edge all the time, makes everything a little bit weird. I guess since I’ve always been in school, I’ve always felt like I belonged somewhere — although David Wong Louie would point out that as an Asian American, I’m always marginalized in some way, and I think he’s right. But this is a different sort of margin for me than what I’m used to. It remains to be seen what I will make of it.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]