There were days where I couldn’t stand the odd looks that were sent my way. You’d think I’d be use to it by now. I tried to act like I belong but it only made me feel more like an impostor.
I moved to Thailand a couple of weeks ago. I sold all my things, fit all I owned in one suitcase and a backpack and booked it. I wanted a new experience. Something different from the life that was intended for me. I’m a big believer of the whole life-is-too-short motto. For me, life was too short to be moving back in to my mom’s house and working some dead end job.
The entire family on my mom’s side lives in Thailand. They raised me a month after I was born to when I turned 2 years-old. I decided on my journey to self discovery, it was time to connect with my roots. My Thailand family welcomed me with open arms. They gave me a place to stay and home cooked every day.
After a week of my life in Thailand, I started to feel isolated. I stood out where ever I went. I’m only half Thai, but to people here I just looked white. I had a tourist come up to me and say, “You’re clearly not from here.” It didn’t help that not even my family members called me by my name. Although I was born in Thailand and I speak the language, I was still addressed as “foreigner.”
The thing that I’m learning to accept is that I’ll never be normal. Blending in is something I was never capable of doing. I don’t have to be like everyone else but I don’t have to be alone either. I needed to figure out how to create a sense a belonging.
I should start off by taking commentary with a grain of salt. I can’t control what people say about me, but I can control how I handle it. The best way to do that is with compassion. Some people rarely get to speak to foreigners, so meeting someone with different cultural background gets them curious. It’s natural for people to ask a bunch of questions. I don’t particularly find the foreigner jokes funny, but jokes were meant to be friendly. Being friendly is better than being hostile.
Let go of judgement and stop building walls. A sense of belonging starts with being a part of a community. This will be one of my biggest challenges while I’m here. Although it may seem contradictory as a blog writer, I have a hard time opening up to people. What helps is getting people to open up to me first. This means learning to make the first move and asking people about themselves. This loops back to the whole compassion thing. If you accept others then they will accept you. But it starts by you welcoming them in. If you allow them to belong in your world, then surely enough you can belong in theirs.