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On Feeling Foreign in Familiar Lands

Your great mistake is to imagine you are one, that you only have one path to walk, only one work to do, only one way to be, only one story to tell. You are not one. You are many. How could it be otherwise? There are as many selves in you as possibilities, as many personas as relationships. You are a bouquet of beautiful colors, complex centers of contrasting and complementary claims. The urge to seize upon a grand or single narrative you believe you ought to be about is nothing more than a mirage. The oughts and shoulds have been exposed now for what they are: a contrivance and conjecture, the feeble attempt of a deep self-deception to mold something solid and safe in a universe that is anything but. Do you feel out of place? Allow yourself grace to really feel your foreignness. There is no need to shun self-consciousness. With open arms welcome your distress and disorientation. Dread is not what you think it is. The courage to live wholly, fierce with reality, is only revealed by the sharp knife of fear, and the joy your heart dreams cannot be savored, even if but for a moment, apart from a trail of trials and tears.

Foreignness is indigenous to the heart: an unsettling, albeit original reminder, that it is strange to be here. Belonging does not belong to you. Faithfulness to the journey is what matters, not any particular description about it. Beyond frustrating, foreignness also has a friendliness, and, at times, even an unexpected giddiness, adventuring in lands you thought you knew, wandering in a world filled with wonders you have yet to touch, taste, or traverse, tinged by a feeling of jamais vu. Foreignness, from the Latin fores meaning door, is also an invitation, an entry to selves you have ignored, and paths you have forsaken, for far too long. There is no need to deny the horizon any longer. Approach the unknown. Belong to your becoming and behold the you no eyes have yet seen or ears ever heard.

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