I first arrived back in America last July. It is now May. I am approaching a year of living in America after being away for nearly ten years.
And what have I learned?
I don’t fit in.
In New Zealand it was always pretty obvious that I wasn’t from around there because of my accent. And that made it easy. We all knew from the beginning that I was different and we went with that.
Here in America it’s a little less obvious that maybe I’m not quite what I seem from the outside. Until I say something like “Can you please tell me where the rubbish is?” Using the word rubbish is always a dead giveaway. Oh, and when Precious says “Mummy…” People expect me to fit into a certain box because of the simple fact that I’m an American. I should act a particular way, I should use certain language, be familiar with certain cultural icons.
Fortunately for me the advent of the World Wide Web made it a lot easier for me to keep up with various cultural changes and I’m not completely ignorant. I’m relatively well-read and what I haven’t read normally Handsome has so between us we’re able to help each other out.
But in the end, when it comes to the end of the day, I don’t fit in. Handsome and I talk about it a lot because, of course, he doesn’t fit in either. He’s now in the position I was in in New Zealand except he’s always getting asked to talk some more so people can hear his accent. But we don’t fit in. And we don’t fit in in New Zealand either. And if we move to another country we won’t fit in there.
My husband is a third culture kid (go read that link if you don’t know what this is - it’s interesting reading as well as giving insight into my husband) but what am I? I liked one of the terms I read which was global nomad. Not to say that I’m a wanderer, but I simply don’t fit in.
I remember being in Seoul, Korea and getting off the subway, walking up the steps into one of the busiest shopping areas in the country. I can’t even begin to guess how many people were within a 500 metre radius. Probably 200,000+. As I walked down the street, surrounded and pushed by people, I felt so alone.
It is so easy to feel like that. Over the last several weeks I have thought about this a lot. I’ve felt quite isolated and lonely. Making good friends takes time. And to find just one person that I can really develop a friendship with requires so many hours of vulnerability and just plain time. And time is a precious commodity. But as I think about it, I’ve tried to put it into perspective. What I keep coming back to is that this world is not my home. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and as a result I will one day die and leave this earth and make my eternal home in heaven. So a few years of feeling out of place is nothing compared to the eternity that I will be completely at home.