How to be a sister.
How to be a daughter.
How to be a daughter-in-law.
How to be a normal U.S. citizen.
I don't remember, because we spent the last two years living in Korea
and all I had to be was a wife, a teacher, and a foreigner.
Three little things.
And on this side of the world, my roles are different. Not that I've been completely absent from my friends or family the last two years, but we haven't engaged, played jokes, hugged, touched, bumped into each other, or dropped by unannounced in a long time.
I'm struggling to find my feet.
I'm trying to remember how to sit and listen to a friend that's sitting across from me.
I'm trying to remember how to be an active part of my sibling's lives.
I'm trying to remember the daughter I was before I left for Korea.
I'm trying to remember how to be part of my adopted family.
And surprisingly, even finding my footing as a American has been tricky.
Because being a "foreigner" and being a "U.S. citizen" are not the same thing.
As a "foreigner" you are always being compared to the local culture.
As a "U.S. citizen" you are a native with no need to explain yourself.
So, I find myself bowing at people.
Being surprised when someone holds a door open for me.
Says "bless you" when I sneeze.
Or strikes up conversation about the weather. In the bathroom.
I find myself trying to be funny.
And remembering Oh, that was only funny over there...
I forget to make eye contact
because I spent so long training myself not to.
I'm overdosing on all things gluten-free
and my colon is feeling it.
I'm behind on pop culture and politics.
I feel like I'm in 7th grade all over again, trying to observe what it takes to "fit in" and awkwardly bumbling through conversations as a complete fraud in the meantime.
"Disorienting" is one word for it.
Another is "culture shock".
We lived in Korea for the past two years.
We've been back in the States just shy of a month.
So I'm trying to give myself some grace because these things take time. And, to be fair, my mind hasn't yet caught up with my body. Since we left Korea, this body has been in 7 countries and 18 states. I think my mind is still somewhere over the Pacific ocean.
I'm giving myself space to feel disoriented.
To feel homeless.
To feel flitty.
To feel nomadic.
To feel lost.
To feel unsettled.
Because we are.
And during this season, I'm leaning heavily into the idea that how I'm feeling is okay. Even normal. That this won't be forever and that while we get through it I can set some boundaries. I can ask for what I need even if others don't quite get it. Even if it means taking a time out. Sitting the evening out. I may need to be a little selfish.
I love Elizabeth Gilbert's definition of "selfish" that she talked about recently in a podcast
with Rob Bell (in fact, check the whole thing out here):
"In Mandarin, there are two different words that we translate in English
as 'selfish' because we don't have these two different words,
we only have the one.
And one of the words means doing something that's beneficial for you.
And the other word means doing something that's
greedy, hoarding, and taking from others.
See, they separated out those two ideas. We didn't. We put those two ideas
into one. So whenever we do something that's beneficial for ourselves it goes under
the file as 'selfish' when actually it's just something that's beneficial for you."
Here's to world travel.
Here's to gratitude.
Here's to joblessness.
Here's to fumbling around like a 7th grader.
Here's to nomad-life.
Here's to whole-hearted self-ishness.