Culture Shock – Fitting In

This is a rather delicate subject matter as I have a lot of opinions surrounding this. Having been a Diplomatic Kid, there were and still are very few moments I feel I fit in, chidhood is hard enough when you stay put, but when you mix in moving constantly, it brings on a whole other level of crazy. Actually, I don’t really like the idea of fitting in, I like the idea of finding a tribe, people who are like you, but can also lift you up when you are down.

Let me paint a little picture. When we first moved to this suburb, I did what I always do, dive in and become social. I had people over, hosted parties, and organized a Mums Night Out. Last year, something began to shift in me. I realized, I was tired of living in a suburb, and living this life. It seems to happen like clock work, after year 3, I am done. Obviously, I have a 7 year old to think of, and have promised myself that I wouldn’t keep moving, I wanted my son to have the roots I never had, even though I have no idea how to create roots. Last year, I became depressed, and my PTSD came back to haunt me. I began to gain weight, and I wasn’t sure what I needed or wanted.

So, I retreated, began to meditate and reflect on what it was that a) I wanted b) where I was going wrong. Over the last 6 months, I began going to museums on my own, going to the gym regularly, and started to take Spanish and Dutch for fun. My whole demeanor changed, I am calm, happy, and intellectually fulfilled.

Last week, I had been invited to a charity luncheon with the group of ladies that I had made when I first moved here. I hadn’t really heard from them, I occasionally see them at school pickup, but I haven’t attempted to reach out to them. They certainly have made no effort to contact me, in fact, i think they only invited me to fill the table.  I arrived, I was happy and delighted to experience the lunch, and art around me, but I was more interested in learning about the charity than talking about decorating, building or shopping for various pieces in the house. I was bored. When it was time to leave, I gathered my things, and all of them, and I mean every single woman who had driven, turned to the other mother who had walked and asked if she needed a ride. No one even looked at me, or acknowledged my existence.  For the first time in my life, I laughed in my head. That insecure Diplomatic Kid inside of me, was no longer insecure, but completely happy and secure. It was a weird moment of letting go.

I had agreed months ago, to go to a ladies Christmas party at a friend’s house last night. I showed up, no one greeted me, no one batted an eyelash when I walked in. They were too busy hugging each other. They were all talking about the shopping trip they had made together, and how much their husbands don’t listen or buy them, what they want. I quietly went into the kitchen to get water, I was accosted by one Mother who claimed loudly “are you still doing that no drinking thing?”, I nodded, and just said “yes”. Apparently, not drinking and working out, makes people feel really uncomfortable. I smiled and started to deflect and ask questions. I stayed for over an hour, and then decided it was time to exit as everyone began to drink more heavily, and rant about their daft husbands. It was the first time I noticed, they were all truly unhappy, and had negative energy. I realized in that moment, I have always tried to fit in, but trying to fit in doesn’t make you happy, it just makes you depressed. I have spent my whole life being 2 different people, as I hated sharing the Diplomatic side to those who weren’t part of that life. In reality, that is the only side of me, I am and will forever be, a Third Culture Kid. I was so happy last night, even as I had been excluded completely, I knew deep inside of me, who I was, and where I was going.

The fact it has taken me this long to really work on my own happiness, which frankly, happens with Mothers, we think of everyone else before ourselves. I noticed a few things, I don’t want to be friends with unhappy people, nor do I want to surround myself with people who don’t want to explore the world or spend energy lifting people up. Where I feel most comfortable, is talking about the world, the next adventure, how to do all this with a child, and exercise, I love exercising and eating clean 99% of the time. As I was thinking all of this, I got a text from a fellow Diplomatic Kid, it was like the universe was giving me a big sign! I told her where I was, and she laughed. She basically expressed the exact same sentiment, that the only time she felt she fit in, was letting go, and being herself.

As a kid, the concept of fitting in, is pretty intense, especially when you move so often. With every move, comes an intense insecurity. That insecurity seems to follow you into adulthood. I was not insecure going into adulthood, as I began working at Foreign Affairs, which was comforting on so many levels. When I became a Mother, and had made a switch to leave Foreign Affairs, I began to feel vulnerable and insecurities began to fill me. Breaking the cycle, took a lot of work, but it is all possible no matter what stage in life you are in. You have to embrace who you truly are, flaws and all.

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