I was never really sure about myself. Hesitant to mention where I’m from because of my lack of knowledge, I felt like an imposter. A fake, more like a tourist when I’m in the place I’m supposed to call my home country. Leaving when I was barely starting 2nd grade and staying overseas till I’m already in college now has left me disconnected. Whenever my parents mention that this year we’d be travelling home, I’d dread the experience. It wasn’t home to me. Not like the way it was to them, I grew up overseas, this was more of a vacation than a coming back home. You see, my knowledge of my home is very little, from the language to transport and pop culture, it left me feeling so stupid and unreal when I would try to explain where I was from. My school was always international, so preconceived notions were already placed upon me. With me knowing very little, I couldn’t reply anything back, this was the only thing I knew. The stereotypes and little to no experience which I have.
I feel like because of this, I have no friends when my family does decide to visit in the summer. I mean I had cousins and extended family, but no one to truly hang out with. No childhood memories or anything, I made all that overseas, not here. It’s not like I knew where to go, I could barely grasp the transportation system, let alone read the different language completely. English was my safety blanket and I did not want to get cold. But something else told me otherwise. Someone
I went on this application unsure, staying in quarantine and dreading the idea that travel will happen soon and I’d face the usual distance I kept from my family. Short conversations where I’d want to end the topic of myself and go back into my bubble. It was always the same slew of faces, familiar or not it was always the same. They’re probably related to me.
I wanted something new. Someone else to talk to. Someone who was a friend.
It started with a few experimental letters, talking about myself and how I want to try harder. I want to make an effort for once to have a genuine connection and friendship. To my surprise, I heard back.
They told me it was okay, and I could be comfortable with them and take my time. I put myself out there with a few common interests like culture, language, arts and food. Specifying the country made it easier, there were other people who were willing to talk to me. They were fine with my English, desire to learn, and took it slow. I could open up and my insecurities of fitting in were understood with curious encouragement. At first, it was just a bizarre experience of telling a stranger about my own strange life, but they were willing to listen, interested in this confusing person that I was. Keeping up with letters is the warmest I’ve felt since shedding my safety blanket. The idea of letting someone else in and learn about me was starting to be okay. I began to not mind and looked forward to every letter I received, some are more frequent than others but I am still thankful for everything. I finally had some friends to comfortably, surely call my own. If I ever do visit the country at the dimming of this pandemic, it’s a promise that we will meet. Or at least they get a care package from me. My gratitude is immeasurable for what they’ve helped me accomplish, but still, I want them to really feel the same warmth that I do. My experience is a weird one, not everyone where I’m from will understand. But I’m glad they at least do or try to do so.
For once, I actually look forward to coming back to the country I’m suppose to call my ‘home.’
So thank you, all of you, for making this connection possible.