So like I said, I’m back in the states now, starting the next chapter, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
As an expat one of the hardest things in readjusting to American culture and coming home is this overarching feeling of “otherness”. For the last month, I’ve been back in my hometown, the place I grew up from the time I started kindergarten until the day I moved away for college.
I mean, it still feels like home, but in a weird way now. Like I’m walking through the fog, and not entirely engaged. My parents’ house is still the same, with a ton of family pictures on the walls, and a warm, welcoming feeling. Everyone at church is friendly and kind, and there is nothing in the world wrong with the place or the people, nothing has changed.
Then again, I’ve changed, and that makes it hard. My world-view and perspective have changed in an intangible way that I can’t quite express. I still look the same, so from the outside, everyone seems to have certain cultural expectations of me, of my views and who I’m supposed to be.
Not all of these biases are bad, I don’t guess, but I feel like people have already put me in a box that is constrained by who they think I should be, based on my physical characteristics, education, religion, social-economic status and all of these physical things we use to try and quantify our world.
I no longer feel like I fit in with people who look like me, talk like me, share a common culture and religion with me, I don’t fit into the box. My views have become my own, and I don’t seem to fit in anywhere.
Honestly, it was the same in China, but at least there I knew I was a foreigner. Here, I’m supposed to fit in. Being overseas has given me a perspective and insight on how cultures and the world work. Five-thousand years of Chinese culture thought and traditions have seeped into my soul and changed the lens with which I view the world and the way I view people who are immigrants, visitors and first-generation Americans in this country.
I am realizing for the first time that the world with its various religions, cultural traditions, social norms and even governments, are not quite so black and white. People are people everywhere, and the large majority are just trying to live quiet lives, provide for their families, develop meaningful connections with friends, and have a few solitary moments to watch the sunset or enjoy sitting in a comfortable corner enjoying a hot cup of tea/coffee/water.
What do you do when home doesn’t feel like home anymore?
Have you ever felt like this? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it.