all I wanted for most of my young life was to blend in. to fit in, to be the same. because to be different in ways good or bad, was to stand out. to stand out was to be noticed. to be noticed was to be judged. and being judged was my greatest fear.
don't rock the boat, baby. it could have been my motto.
I was one of those kids who knew the answer but didn't raise their hand often, for fear of sounding like a smart ass, or a nerd. I was one of those kids content to hang on the edges of social gatherings, letting others dance in the spotlight... because I was embarrassed of my own dance moves.
this continued even through much of college and my adult life. I was concerned with doing the "right thing" and keeping up appearances. I did what was asked of me, and then some. I was reliable and responsible, and more than competent. [unless I "failed" at something, then I silently mentally beat myself up for days.]
my relationships with colleagues, acquaintances, even friends and family, were good on the surface but I was stressed under it all. I never wanted to upset anybody by saying or doing something that wasn't what I thought they expected of me. I took great care to always be appropriate and act in what I felt was the least abrasive or confrontational manner.
it was exhausting, and it made me miserable. so many times, I let myself be pushed around and walked over. trampled on. all while I stayed smiling and polite and tried my best to please everyone all at once. I was the kid in the pool, silently treading water and trying to obey the "no splashing" rule while it seemed like all the other kids had fun.
I was scared to stand out, to do something wrong or [maybe worse] something right. I was scared to be myself and live my life with the volume turned up on who I really was.
I had been trying to break free, but moving to Taiwan is what really changed everything.
there is no way for a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, tan-skinned American woman to blend in to Asia. I'm unfamiliar with the culture and customs and don't always know when I may do something offensive. people stare at me wherever I go. some places more than others. sometimes people are just curious. sometimes they strike up a friendly conversation. sometimes they are downright rude or just point and laugh. I can't change it.
and the world I left behind? it sure got a few people wet when I declared I wasn't going to follow what seems to be the American dream... staying in my 9-5 [even if I didn't love it] and popping out a few kids [even if I wasn't ready] after buying a house [even if we couldn't afford to.] it's been an adjustment for me, but for those I left behind I think it was an even bigger shock.
you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs. you can't swim without getting wet. and you certainly can't manage to stay afloat without making a few waves.
I'm making waves, whether I want to or not. so why not embrace it?
I've been slowly trying to change my life to be more of what I love, and give myself more freedom to be ME without worrying about what others think. life as an expat in Taiwan has given me the space to do this. to become comfortable with the idea of making a splash, and actually start making some waves on purpose.
I won't feel guilty about leaving my life to move across the world without a plan and take up a new career as housewife/writer/blogger. about nearing 3-0 and not yet being a mother and homeowner. because my life choices are still valid, even if someone else wouldn't choose them.
I will not wear long sleeves while running in 80 degree weather, or use a parasol to keep my skin from turning a toasted marshmallow golden brown. because I will never fit the Asian ideal of beauty, and that's completely ok as long as I do what makes me feel beautiful.
I will not force myself to eat gluten just so others won't feel awkward about my food sensitivities. if I asked for a medium well burger and you serve me something on the rare side... I will send it back. because my needs and comfort are just as valid as anyone else's.
I will stand up for myself. for my life choices, and for what I want. because I'm actually kind of an awesome person when I let myself be me, even if that person doesn't adhere to what society's [or even MY] expectations are.
I'm making waves, and I'm going to continue making them. but not simply by floundering around, trying to tread water and keep from splashing.
I'm going to do a cannonball. so bring your ponchos.