How far is the journey? As deep as it is long!
My layers have shed, my true self exposed. There is a heeling process when experiencing so much change. I say goodbye to my former self. The other person was here for so long, and to realise that it wasn’t the authentic me, makes me wonder why I held on for so long . Or perhaps these are simple growing pains on the way to a well developed human being. I can always hope!
Age does something. While my twenties were about finding my way, my thirties were about developing choices and to find my identity. Now my forties are about erasing all I’ve learned and complete expectance of who I am. Feeling comfortable in my own skin.
I cannot change my core personality, and why should I? I realise I cannot please everyone, but the people I do, I cherish.
These are days of reflection coming into the light. Life as an expat…
I watch myself in a room full of strangers where no one speaks to me. Am I invisible? If I wish myself to disappear into the corner would I absorb into the shadows? I pray no one talks to me, like a goalie at a hockey game, I deflect.
I am the foreigner. They are not rude or mean; it is simply that I cannot communicate. I smile and nod politely, although I understand most of what is going on, I am at a loss for the right words when I need them most.
I walk home and then all the right words come rushing to mind. I talk to myself reliving every single awkward moment, kicking myself for the lack of courage and speed. A feeling of complete inadequacy fills ever cell of my body.
I am a child, completely lacking in a room full of scholars. Being an immigrant feels lonely and is far from easy.
My friends who speak English have stopped speaking to me in anything but French. I am grateful. It forces me to talk. They correct me. During the time with them my shell opens up and I try different sentences and words. I feel comfortable even confident near them and try to cocoon myself in my friends. In turn I learn. I wish they were with me all the time. That would be funny. Imagine my friends taking turns as my warden at all hours of the day. Nice thought…
I carefully pick my words. It has to be precise using as few words as possible. In Canada, I did not watch my words, and threw them around carelessly. I understand my quiet friends. When they speak, everyone listens. When they get angry, we take notice.
Quiet is a protective shield. I am trapped in my own inability to voice my concerns, my opinions and my thoughts.
And then it happens. Courage finds me and I say something. A few words come out just right. Most people didn’t even know I could talk; the dumb mute in the corner. All heads turn sharply. Oh god, I think…but quickly everyone agrees with me, perhaps in hopes to not discourage or embarrass me…not sure which. Sometimes the person next to me helps out translating, and interprets what I say in French and conveys back to the group. I am a puzzle to them. This I know.
When a foreigner marks a giant X in the sand and proclaims, this is my home! The reaction varies.. Why is she here? Why is she still here? Perhaps they wonder. What is she doing among us?
I shy in my corner. Find solace in the dark.
Two years as the wallflower, I absorb information and learn to listen.
My opinions are not bogged down with ego trying to let everyone know I am here. The humbling loathing sets in after each humiliating attempt to communicate that usually ends in three shades of red. I never give up.
In the shadows I have learned to value the person that is the normal me in the room. That person who takes the reigns. It is an ironic twist of fate. With kindness and love they talk for me saving me the embarrassment. I am better equipped at understanding why I am the way I am, from observing them.
Emerging is a softer, kinder, far more patient person.
The sidelines are full of peace and knowledge, self-evaluation in between the moments of thought before speaking. It is the void of pressure of always being on cue ready for anything and anyone coming my way. The quick wit, funny man is finally at rest. I only wish she was gone sooner. The sarcastic self-deprecating person trying to mask insecurity is gone. She is not very funny after all. She stayed far too long, I say good-bye.
Why did it take 8448 kilometres, stripping down to bare essentials and starting a new life without a single friend or family member in the whole country for support to find my way back to me? I honestly cannot explain it. Maybe I can figure it out while I am in the shadows, because soon enough I’m stepping into the light.