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#157: "You are only free when you realize..."

I wish I knew how this will turn out said the rabbit. The oxherd boy pattered her gently. Maybe it's not about knowing how it will turn out he said. Maybe what you really want to know is that you'll be OK no matter what happens. Oxherd Boy inspiring art chinese art japanese art inspirational comic

The question of belonging is something that shows its face in many ways through daily interactions when living in a place that does not mirror the world in which my subconscious has been programmed to operate. I felt this when thrust in not just in new physical environments, but also when relationships changed.

In my last year of high school, my closest friends of many years decided they no longer wished me to be part of the group. I was devastated and heartbroken -- shocked because it caught me completely by surprise, and confused because they closed ranks in such a way that any explanation was not forthcoming. When I volunteered in Peru as the only English-speaking person in a remote town of less than 600, I felt an acute lack of personal identity. I found in Spanish, I became a very different person. My inability to express myself in the same way as in English, through humor, wit, and argumentation, made me feel like a stranger to myself. Both are examples being in drastically unfamiliar territory that elicited a feeling of loneliness and groundlessness, insecurity and doubt.

The funny thing is that with each change, I found that (1) I couldn't go back and (2) even going back would not be the same. Had my friends welcomed me back into our original clique, my battered teenage heart would have lived in perpetual fear of being rejected again. And when I did return to the English-speaking environment after more than two years in Peru, I found myself experiencing reverse culture shock and discovered limitations in expressing who I'd become while abroad. It has made me wonder often, "Is it really possible to belong?"

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