Embracing My Differences

I over share. I just do. It’s in my nature. It’s in my insecurity. It’s in my relational make up. It’s not always a good thing. But it is often a funny thing. It’s never more funny though when I return from the States or spend a significant time on the phone with friends from the States. We returned home from America two weeks ago now. It was glorious, sunny and relaxing. Being with friends that have known me longer than they haven’t is incredible and life giving. I landed back in NZ to freezing weather, dark skies and in a cold house. I hate winter. It is not a secret. I have a love affair with sun and summer, bathing suits and frappuccinos, the beach and long days that end in sun kissed skin. Returning to the freezing weather and leaving life-long friends left me in a depressed funk. I went from wearing a swim suit every day to wearing running clothes without doing any running plus a down jacket that doubles as a sleeping bag. I couldn’t face real clothes. Hoodies and running pants were the best I could do. I showed up one night at a school event for my son and this sweet lady said, “You are a runner aren’t you?” To which I quickly replied with a laugh and a smile, “Oh well yes kind of, but I’m in these because I didn’t feel like showering or putting on real clothes.” This sweet Kiwi mom just stared at me. No response. Just an awkward smile and an apology for pointing out my workout clothes. Awwww, the subtle differences between cultures. On the whole, Kiwis do not over share, most times they barely share on a good day. It was a rude awakening of being out of American culture and back in Kiwi culture. All I could do was laugh and think of my time back in America where in fact I do over share even in that wildly open and emotional culture, but imagine the anxiety I cause in this culture that doesn’t over share.

I have learned in the last five years (yes I have lived in NZ almost five years!) to embrace my different take on life and emotions. It hasn’t been easy and has led me to a counsellor twice and a life coach once, plus growing up a bit and getting on some medicine helped tons! It’s so easy to feel uneasy or even bad about yourself when you just don’t fit in. When you are different than the majority it can be tempting to change because you don’t want to be called out, made fun of or worse, be brought back to a time in life when you were different and harassed or made to feel bad for it. I have had more times than I want to count where I felt different and left out or hurt because of it. I think for me that was why it was so tempting to try and “tone myself down” here in NZ. If one more person commented on my pronunciation of garage or the fact that I eat pumpkin sweet or my coffee being so big I thought I would scream. Not to even mention that sometimes people just don’t like you because your passport says American. That’s my junk. My fear. My memory of being different and then being made fun of for it. Now I embrace it. For some people that is no big deal, for me that was and is a HUGE deal. The past has ways of creeping up on me and telling me I will always be that girl that didn’t fit in and gets made fun of, but sometimes we have to tell our 12 year old self that this is not that and I am not her anymore, then I take a deep breath and bravely be myself in all my American glory!

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