Mar 20, 2015

cross cultural musings

I remember having this conversation with my high school best friend back in Japan. She's a Bulgarian girl, who just so happens to speak French, English, and Japanese fluently, and she understands more than anyone I know, how assimilating into different cultures can be excruciating work. It goes far beyond the basics of language. It's the fluency in mannerisms and cultural norms that is the hardest. We spent days--months--years even--talking about the effect of ongoing culture shock and reverse culture shock, and how these things contributed to who we were. We wondered how we would raise our own kids. If we could have them reap the benefits of multi cultural growth, without the pain and loneliness we had experienced. We also wondered if that kind of pain was a prerequisite to fully becoming ourselves.

Those years of living in Japan and coming home again stretched me more than I ever thought possible, and I still carry the weight of them in my soul. They changed me in a way I can't quite define, but is there all the same. I know that I wouldn't have changed the experiences I had in any shape or form. I am who I am because of them, and there has been such beauty at the end of the tunnel. I met gorgeous souls, who light up my life with their presence to this day. I learned about forgiveness and unconditional love (I am still figuring this out when it comes to myself.)

Now, as a mother to my own little one who will one day grow up and do soul searching of her own, I wonder how to best support her in this complex thing called living. I hope that love will carry me in the right direction, for there is so much I don't know, and much to figure out yet. I hope she loves all of these cultures that are a part of her by heritage, and that she dares to explore them fully. I hope she jumps far outside of her comfort zone, and finds her own tribe of loving souls who hold her dear. I hope that her heart doesn't break too much in the process of finding herself, and that she will turn to me when the going gets rough. I hope she adores this wild and colorful world with every particle of her being. And I hope she always knows that my love for her knows no boundaries. It is the most precious gift I have found on my own journey.

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