A few years ago, I went to a friend’s wedding. My boyfriend(now husband) was at a yoga retreat and I went with another friend who was my “date”. As we sat near the back of the church, I made out a row of old classmates that were close to the front. It was a neat pattern that alternated classmate-husband-classmate-husband.
I squirmed in my seat a little.
At the reception, people asked me the rote of questions:
- where’s your boyfriend?
- so, where are you living now?
- when are you planning on coming back?
Later, when sharing some of the challenges of living in Tunisia, one person joked: “Just come back already, work here…buy a house like normal people.”
It made me think. Just like every time I went back home to the States made me think.
What did I want? Did I want a house in California, planting flowers in the backyard, a sensible car in the driveway? Did I want to be included in the row of mommies pushing strollers with their friends to the nearby farmer’s market? Why wasn’t I there yet? Why wasn’t I “normal”?
Often times, too many to count, I’d have an identity breakdown from the constant shifts. I was grappling with two realities: one that embraces all I know, love, and envisioned for myself for a long time; the other that speaks to my curiosity of the world, and appreciation for newness-an alternative way to live.
In the last couple of years, I’ve come to accept the life I’ve chosen. Right now, I am good not being a homeowner. I am OK taking public transportation or cycling to destinations. I am glad to have had an international life while teaching. This is not to say that I may choose something else in the future but right now it’s a choice I am happy with.
How often do we fall into the what-I-should-be-doing mental pattern? It’s no surprise that society, convention, expectations, etc. have a strong grip. What’s taken me years to figure out is that “normal” is subjective and I’ve just found a new definition.