Please feel free to listen to this whilst reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJlyoDbm5YA
My title is based off of Tarzans struggle, because in a strange way I feel like I can relate. Not the whole raised by apes part, but the part of not knowing where to fit. Society naturally likes to put things into categories, it likes to have boxes to check, and parameters to adhere to. Even without those categories, we as humans like to feel like we belong to something. We enjoy taking ownership of whatever we are a part of. What do you do though when you feel like you are a part of two worlds, not completely belonging to either one? In Cambodia I live my day to day life, it is where I work, and keep a normal schedule. However, no matter how long I am there, I will always be a foreigner, never completely fitting in. Always being stared at. Back in the States I no longer fit in because I don’t have the same life I once had there. Returning to the States feels like a vacation as opposed to an overwhelming sense of being home. Both places are home, but in both places I don’t feel completely at home.
I’m writing this in case you are my friend, or maybe have another friend who lives abroad or does ministry work in a different place. It is hard to be in two places. I apologize already to my friends in the states, before I go into further details, about the moments I missed. The late birthday wishes, or the days late check-up on how that thing went that you did. Part of it is time difference, the other part is getting lost in the chaos of life and trying to juggle two worlds. Even if I don’t always get a chance to say it, I AM SO THANKFUL FOR YOU. I don’t live my day to day life in the states anymore, and I only get to see you once or twice a year, but knowing you are on the other side means the world to me.
I would be lying if I didn’t say a small piece of me is a little jealous of my friends who know exactly where they want to live for most of their lives. God has put such a wandering heart in me that I have no idea where I will end up (or the many places I will end up), and while that is beautiful, it is also confusing. You see, no matter where I am, I’m missing out on something. I’m not trying to be negative, but it is just the honest truth. When I’m in Cambodia I miss out on birthdays, milestones, and all the sweet little moments that encompass my amazing family and friends lives in the States. However, when I’m in the States I’m missing out on the same things in the lives of the friends that I have made in Cambodia. A small part of me always feels a little lost and guilty- like I am always missing an important part of the lives of the people I love…on both sides of the world. I think this realization hits me harder when I spend time in the States, because I stay long enough to just enter quickly into the lives my friends are living, and then get snapped back out. It is a little painful to come and go like that. I think it will get better with time, the more I come and go. I know that this is a part of the nomadic path that God has set me on. Knowing that doesn’t always make it easier when I’m giving those goodbye airport hugs though. At least I know, with each hug, it is just an “I’ll see you (hopefully) soon” instead of a “permanent goodbye”.
If you know me, or someone like me, I just ask for grace as we try to balance and understand what it means to live in two worlds. I don’t think I will ever master the balance, but I really am trying my best. Even though it is hard, and can be painful, I love having one big family spread out across the world. I want to thank everyone who is a part of that family for me, and for your support- cause even if I don’t get the chance to say it, I couldn’t do it without the people on every side. I am so thankful for the chance to live in two worlds, and look forward to continuing to grow my big multiracial global family! Even though I don’t “fit in” perfectly anywhere, God has placed me exactly where I need to be.
Left: Eating American food with Cambodian family
Right: Eating Cambodian food with American family