I just recently declared to my husband that I need to be myself. I need a haircut, color to get back to who I am. I need to feel like me again. Recent moving, taking care of the house, kids have me feeling like a robot. I look ahead and I see more of the same. A state of not being me. A robot wife/mother/caretaker who takes care of anyone or anything that’s broken. I have switches in my brain; kid throwing a tantrum take a deep breath, handle that crap move on. Guests coming over; wake up early even though I ’m tired, down two extra cups of coffee, handle that shit, move on. Husband panicking over something; un-panick him, handled, move on. I seriously wanted to be out of Saudia Arabia for reasons no one is a stranger to I’m sure. If you are, I can explain, just ask. However, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into by moving here even though I have lived here before.
Pakistan is a place I know and love, but the problem is she doesn’t love me back with the same force. How I choose to dress and how I choose to carry myself is a bit too ”strange” for her. Sounds interesting coming from someone who lived on the ”strange” side of the tracks all her life in the US as well. Over there I was strange because I was too conservative. ”Those poor Muslim women. We need to free them from their religious and cultural prison”. Over here in Pakistan, I get looks that say, ”OMG, what is she wearing? ” It’s always inappropriate. I still have a scarf on my head and as far as I’m concerned everything on me is more conservative than it would have been if I was anywhere else in the world (excluding Saudi).
When I moved to Pakistan for the first time I was excited. I thought, man this is so cool, the days of being looked at as different and not good enough to fit in are over. As much as I knew I was going to miss home at least I could try and make a home here with people who were just like me. sounds awesome right? My perfect little world? Nope.
I got here and I was asked the same question I was asked in America, ”where are you from?” I gave the same answer I gave over there, ”I’m from RIGHT FREAKING HERE”. And I got the same response, ”no but really”.
Then we moved back for unrelated reasons and I was a bit relieved because it’s never easy for people like me, at least it was familiar and it was home. This time though, I thought I was older, wiser, so maybe I’ll handle it better. I’ll be less confused if nothing else. Turns out I’m neither. I’m not even confused. I’m something completely different from all of those things. I’m a Pakistani-American who has very strong opinions about her countries. I know where I want to be in my future. I know I don’t belong in one place. If someone asked me to pick just one country, or city for the rest of my life I would not be able to do that. My loyalties are many and I am very proud of that.
What makes me is all of those things combined. What is not me is being a robot. I’m not going to wear certain clothes because everyone is wearing them.
That is exactly why others opinion on my scarf doesn’t matter when I’m in the US. People who genuinely want to know can ask me or research. The rest can assume what they want. I am too busy being me usually.
Although, I’m not going to deny that it does hurt to know that the two places that I’ve called home have not truly embraced me. That everything I’ve ever known and loved and forgiven about these places just because I wanted to be accepted are sometimes the exact issues and dilemmas that stand between us. Generally, it is not my fault. It is not my fault that I have the wrong skin color for most people. It’s not my fault that my parents speak a different language.
Well, it is kind of my fault that I’m choosing my religion, but religious freedom, no? Why don’t I get that if I’m not infringing on anyone else’s rights?
It surely can’t be considered a fault that my fashion sense is unique. You can look twice, I’m okay with that but gosh don’t judge me for it.
It cannot be a flaw in my innate personality that because of my family background, religion and upbringing I act different and have different opinions. Just a different way of looking at the world. I’m not demanding you agree with me.
This whole list goes for every home I’ve had. I’ve experienced these on different levels everywhere. ”Too Americanized” or ”not American enough”, “too Pakistani”, “not Pakistani enough”. Those switches in my brain just keep turning off and on. All the while I’m trying not to get lost myself. I’m neither since neither place has claimed me.
So where do I feel at home? With myself. There’s no judgment here. I change my look often to keep it fresh, to keep reminding myself that I belong everywhere. No one can tell me to change: citizen of the world and all.
OR a country orphan. I’ll go with that it’s more dramatic. So, I’m off to change it up again, this country orphan feeling is strong right now.