A true musical theater geek, that line, "Who am I, anyway?" launches me into the audition number from A Chorus Line where the character Paul sings:
"Who am I, anyway?
Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don't know.
What does he want from me?
What should I try to be?"
Taken out of the context of the show, I'm sure any expat out there could identify with this statement.
When we move to a new country or town or city or province or state, we are forced to re-identify ourselves in our new surroundings and amongst new people.
Often, we find ourselves trying to fit the mold we think is expected of us. To be who people think we should be, to try to fit in with everyone else in our new environment.
But, eventually, we find that we no longer recognise the person we see in the mirror staring back at us. We've lost so much of ourselves that we are unhappy.
I think many times we blame it on our surroundings. It's too difficult not knowing the language. I'm really not familiar with this place. The people and customs are too different here. The weather's not as perfect as it could be.
We start longing for "home." To go back to where we came from.
But the thing is, I don't think we're really missing home. I think we're missing who we were when we lived there. Before we felt that we needed to be someone else.
While I don't think we can go back to being who we were (and who really wants that anyway?), I think we owe it to ourselves and our new home to try to find ourselves again. A new and better self with open eyes and heart. A self that is a little bit of where we came from and a little bit of where we are now.
This has been my goal for the past several months. Though I'm not quite to the finish line, this journey to reconciliation has really begun to give me a sense of peace.
My post on this topic, Reconciling me: a cultural chameleon merges old and new, was published on the expat+HAREM. If you are looking to reconcile or struggling with reconciling who you were with who are are and who you want and need to be, I invite you to come read and comment on this post.
Photo: Clogs and Tulips