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Stranger in a Strange Land

Fog.

I’m an immigrant. 

1st generation. 

But not the obvious kind. You’d be hard pressed to identify me in a crowd of Americans as someone who was born in another country. 

I don’t pronounce words with any discernible lilt or lisp. My clothing is more along the lines of a GAP ad than what you would find at your local international farmer’s market. 

I spent my formative years in America, and could talk more about the Kardashian’s rise to fame than I could perhaps elucidate on the post-war post-independence condition of my fatherland. 

With all of that being said..

The cultural thumbprints of “home” linger. 

I see it in the difficulty I have navigating some of the culture of 2018 America. Being African means that I didn’t have to deal with some of the baggage that African-American’s had to deal with. This can lead to confusion when I look at my path and compare it to theirs.  

I see it in my struggle with dating. Trying to find someone who understands my unique history and the views I have is somewhat more difficult for people who have not had the immigrant experience. 

Trying to figure out what aspects of my culture are helpful and should be kept and what aspects can be modulated and mixed with more progressive viewpoints is mildly annoying. I try to use a rational framework to decide what to keep vs. throw away. It’s not always an easy task. I think respect for elders translates well across all cultures, but there are other features that don’t make the transatlantic trip as easy. 

What’s even more difficult is that you’ve been raised in a place that automatically separates you from your home country via distance. You are not in the strictest senses African and yet, not quite American. You spend a good portion of your life, feeling a bit like an outsider in both groups. Each group has a claim to your heart but neither seem to allow you a perfect fit. There is always the faint reminder that “s/he’s not really one of us.”

And maybe, this is more a personal, but I suspect that it is the same for all immigrants who emigrate at a young age. 

There are of course, choices that can be made to ameliorate these issues. The most common is to fully adopt the culture of your new home. This is probably the most commonly chosen for those of us who arrive in America at an early age.

Because truthfully, it’s easiest to adapt when you are young. You can disguise or destroy any accent you have. You can adopt the slang, mannerisms, clothing styles, and learn what the social cues and practices are. Often because you’ve made an (unconscious) study of the new culture you’ll understand the unwritten rules in a way that even natives don’t quite grasp. 

The problem is that you’ll have something to compare the new culture to. You’ll grasp the hypocrisies and see the places where your new home falls short. You’ll be bewildered as to why your new home does things the way that they do. And when you go back to your fatherland, you’ll see the inefficiencies and foibles that live there. 

Being an immigrant, I think, is a good place for an introvert. You get to live in two different worlds at the same time. It is as close to as super power as I think I’ll ever get.


“The truth is, immigrants tend to be more American than people born here.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk, 

Choke

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Being Seen

I’m an introvert. 

This usually means that I prefer to stay out of the spotlight. When I hear about solitary confinement, I don’t always think of it as a punishment. 

This is a problem, because, I think, I want to do great things. And I want to be admired for them. (tough writing that last sentence, but its true, who doesn’t?)

I want to inspire others and be inspired to do even greater things. 

This will be require that I be seen. Sometimes judged, and sometimes fail in the full view of others. 

I think building integrity and bravery around all the things in my life, not just the things I’m proud of, will lead to much more authenticity and a life that is more cohesive. 

Fly or Fall, 

OFO

Strive. And often Fail. But it’s ok. Just be yourself. 
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Artiste.

Art. 

&

Creation. 

These are fancy words. My analytical mind has a hard time making space in my brain for the realization that this might be what is missing from my life. 

It’s funny to think that thinking isn’t the solution. 

Instead it’s making. For an over-analyzer it always seems to catch me by surprise when I get around to creating and the next morning get the opportunity to look back at the product of my labors. It doesn’t matter what I’ve created, it only matters that I actually made something. 

I think I’m going to try to do a quick mini-challenge – starting at 5 days, then hopefully growing it week to week until its a everyday practice so that everyday I’m creating. 

I think that I get continually fooled by the messaging that more success will fill up the holes inside of us. 

It doesn’t.

So I work harder, read more, and generally plot on how I can reach some imaginary end point…which funny enough, seems to retreat into the horizon, the closer I get to it. 

Obviously a change is required. 

So here is to day #1. 

FOF

OFO

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Foggy Weather Thoughts.

2018. How fast it went.

I’m sitting here in my warm room, in sweat pants, after a shift at the hospital and just thinking about the future.

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Thinking about the future is one of my favorite past times. Which can be a  bit of a problem. Thinking, and hoping, and wishing, and planning the future can often be a replacement for actually taking action. I’m 34 this year. Do all of these sentences have something to do with each other? I’m not certain.

In certain areas of my life, I feel behind the curve. I’ve accomplished a good bit but sometimes I wonder if I’ve really done all that I could’ve. Or if more specifically, if I’m doing all I could in the right direction.

and this..to be honest..is the theme of most of this blog. One giant, where am I?

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I wonder If I’m building anything that will last the test of time. I wonder if I’ve spent too much time enjoying life and not enough working on problems or issues that mean something to me. I wonder if I have enough faith, or if I’m too afraid of risk. I wonder if I’m fulfilling my potential?

All these questions can be a slippery slope that leads from happiness to comparison to dissatisfaction, when in reality, I’m doing just fine. But when you have a culture of superlative success to compare yourself to, its easy to grow dissatisfied.

I don’t know what the answer is.

  • Is it.. removing all media/distractions from my life?
  • Is it ..doubling down and grinding myself into oblivion while trying to  find meaning in my work?
  • Is it being present?
  • Is it working less and experiencing more?
  • Am I thinking too much, not enough, or incorrectly?

Sigh.

Anyway, on the bright side of it all, 2018 has been an amazing year.

  • I’ve met a woman that I think I can see a future with
  • I’ve stopped (or significantly slowed) my over-saving and moved some of that money into the present to make concrete changes to my day to day life that have made me much more happy.

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New Deck yay!

  • Traveled a good bit and made some good memories with family and friends

And I guess the question, I keep coming to, as if my life is a double rainbow, is what does it all mean?

How can I find greater purpose?

How can I hear from God more?

How much saving is prudent? How much is greed?

How do I not get trapped by the day to day grind?

How do I keep dreams alive as responsibilities mount?

Sigh. So many questions.

Fly or Fall. Even if it means you gotta spend some time looking deep in the mirror.

-OFO

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