By birth, I am Indonesian. Cut me, and you will see that I’m bleeding red and white just like the colors of my country’s flag. But is it so wrong to feel like I often don’t belong in my home country anymore? Maybe it is wrong…to have this constant battle inside me. I’m not sure.
Although I love my country I can’t stand living here for a long period of times. Call me unpatriotic because that’s maybe just what the label I deserve. But then again when I was living abroad I missed my home country tremendously. Listening to national songs from a far away land can bring me to tears.
Long before I lived abroad I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong, like I didn’t fit-in in a way. It’s difficult to put into exact words of how I felt growing up. Growing up, with what my friends thought as ‘blessings’ were more like a curse to me somehow. I tried to hide my body because it kept bringing unwanted attention. It made me uncomfortable and I even despised this heritage from my mother’s side of the family. Growing up my physique stood out like a sore thumb and it made me feel more alienated than my own peers.
Feeling ostracized from my own country didn’t feel as strong as when I returned for good.
Breathing in the different settings, different ways of life, different culture…I feel at home. No longer did I feel different, strangely. in my different color clothes, I can walk outside without stooping my back trying to cover myself up. For the first time in my life, I can wear comfy – even sexy – clothing’s that actually fit me right without fear of being called out to in public. For the first time, I learned to express myself without fear of being judge. My opinionated self was set free. I was free…I tasted freedom.
After inhaling that slice of freedom to return to my real home was hard. Very hard. I miss a lot of things from my adopted country.
From readjusting myself to what they called reverse culture shock to embracing my new title as a single mom in a country where divorce is still condemned as taboo and women take the blame for most marital failure. At times I feel like I fall into the ‘failed’ category in many people’ eyes.
My love-hate relationship with my own country might go on for years to come, I’m not sure if I had learned to live with it. Yes, I feel awkward in some social settings especially when people started to ask too many personal questions. We, in Indonesian love small talk – to them it’s harmless but I never like it, but my skin grows thicker by the day.
That’s why on my blog’s bio, I put: “Indonesian by birth, westernized by choice.” Maybe I will stand out differently from everyone else forever but I continue to learn to accept myself for who I am. Physically and mentally – I may not be like your typical itty bitty Asian or one with the submissive attitude. Instead of trying to fit in with everyone else, I am learning to acknowledge that I am what I am and that’s what makes me special.
Having a mixed race child, I can only hope he will grow up with a rich life filled with the cultures from both sides of his parents lives and that he will feel at home in both countries. That he will take what’s good from both cultures and blend it all in to be a fine young man my heart prays he will be.
Maureen created the Tatterscoops blog, which has been featured in local publications. Born in Indonesia, she has lived in the USA and China. Maureen is a single-mom and works as a Secretary for a multi-national company. Follow Maureen on Twitter @Tatterscoops