lean in.

I survived my second week of work! …and still living with limited internet, which explains my weekdays radio silence. If you’ve wondered how I’ve been… the short answer is: I’m still adjusting. The long answer.. requires some thought. I wrote two blurbs – reflections, I call them – three nights ago-

Sometimes I think my heart is good in the sense that it’s quicker to catch on a situation before my mind computes exactly what is going on. I had something of a moment of epiphany this afternoon where I realized that at some point, in order to survive (funny how the first word that comes to mind is this, not ‘live‘) here – and elsewhere, beyond The City – I need to learn to shed my too-proud hometown roots, downplay that “my God, you’re really a city person” (materialistic) impression and somehow – somehow – learn to, if I can’t fit in, at least be more accommodating. … But I also feel like everything about me spells Outsider – from my car’s plate number to my dialect to my constant puzzlement over local flavors and interests to even general day-to-day lifestyle… I’m hardly the only one pffft yes I know, but ugh in the company of friendly new faces here, I keep feeling awkward in the most unexpected ways. I don’t think the goal is to completely localize but I feel like I’ve yet to figure out and thus see through a middle ground plan. I don’t want to come off as a snob or worse, stupidly clueless but… I’m not sure if “being myself” here is working out..

(It’s perplexing -but okay, it’s only been one-and-a-half weeks)

-and last night, after a wonderful evening conversation with my – surprise, surprise – buddy/partner/colleague at work who’s a year my senior in work but a year younger in age:

“I had a moment the other night. I had to call my sister. I had to. I’ve been thinking… ruminating over this, this week, because I feel uncomfortable. Was my… is the… life I lead all this while so wrong? Having grown up privileged and spoiled and sheltered… is my life so materialistic, so superficial that I need to feel guilty and therefore apologize? …why? I don’t want to feel shame over my upbringing – one that my parents worked hard to provide. I’m spoiled and sheltered and privileged – I recognize these. But I mean no harm by them; I’ve never belittled others. Yes okay my life is superficial to a degree – I recognize this, too. But I don’t think I’m a bad person. I think this counts for something. I don’t think of the kind of life here as ‘less‘; it’s just a different kind of normal than mine, what I’m used to. But I’m trying to be mindful, I’m learning to be respectful and adjust. I’m not saying I’m entitled to this, it’s just lately I’m thinking: maybe respect in our differences need to go both ways. I’m genuinely trying, space not judgment would be nice. They’ve got to give me a chance, too.”

When I called Eldest Sis, she asked, “How’s work?” In that moment, for the briefest second, it hit me that I’ll survive – I’ll find my way around; I always do. Because technical knowledge can be developed, honed, and resharpened – social adaptation though? I’m having a hard time. “I don’t need a big group,” I told my colleague/pal – we dance around the term ‘friends‘ of late and I find it both hilarious and endearing, our awkwardness – “I just need a few people I can count on. Just a few who’s on my side, you know what I mean?” A pause. “But of course – I’ve to wade through 100 to find that 10.”

I think I’m impatient. I recognize this. I want what I want when I want it how I want it where I want it – my mother was right all along. Of course. All the time. She’s right. “You always want things to materialize exactly how you envision them, at the time you want them!” She’d scold, angry and annoyed. “You’re so impatient!” I hear you, mother. I hear you now.

So I keep reminding myself – I promise I’m trying – to be one with the process. Make peace with this inevitable rite-of-passage. Find my center in this chaos. Though being myself isn’t easy and acceptable here – there has to be a middle ground.

And I keep recalling too, out of the dozens of prayers that I’d asked for when I was in the holy land of Mecca right there in God’s home – one thing I’d specifically asked for was for me to always stay true to myself, no matter the situation and circumstance. “Dear God,” I’d whispered, “Even in a sea of change and in the process of countless transitions, I’d change and adapt, but at heart, always be true to myself.” 

Because if it’s one thing I now realize the truth to, when it comes to adulthood – all those laments about losing oneself, without realizing or circumstantially… they’re true. If you’re not careful, you’ll simply be swept away by the waves. If your foundation is weak, your grounding will crack. If your roots are not firm, you’ll eventually sway with the wind.

Over and over – because I’m obsessive and possessive about my self-definitions – I keep reminding myself to, at all costs, stay true to myself. Learn to adapt and accommodate – but never deny myself. There is no need to feel ashamed for the life I live, the person I was and has always been; there’s only progress. In other words: how to do things – myself included – better.

I deserve a chance too.

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