unfinished observations | complete emotions

I can’t finish any thoughts or ideas these days. They pop into my head, I say “I wonder” and then study some more language, or work on transcribing key informant interviews of government officials in Tagalog, or get a few hours of blissful sleep.

There’s something I’m not really sure how to talk about but have been thinking about a lot: this is a cross cultural experience, and for the community I will be placed in, I am a representative of what it means to be American. I feel very uncomfortable about perpetuating the “American girl” stereotype because I am white, present as female, and am feminine. I am also not openly part of the LGBTQ+ community and have various other stereotypic American rom-com traits about me. We have such an incredible diverse group of trainees this year and I just feel a bit odd about perpetuating that stereotype by simply being myself, when it’s already such a firm stereotype of Americans here. Not sure why or what to do about it. (How to reframe my perception, address it, etc.)

I am not good at change. I will stay uncomfortable rather than make changes for improvement of a situation just because…I don’t know I just do. Working on it. Here, it’s different. I have so much to learn. If my Nanay asks if I am tired and I respond yes, she will say ok then rest now like it’s such an obvious fix to my current discomfort. However if I expressed that I was tired at home, I might receive some advice like, “can you cut hours at one of your jobs?” or “what have you been eating maybe it’s making you tired”. Maybe it’s just my family at home or something, or maybe I’m incorrectly expressing myself here because of language and culture barriers, but I wonder at the vast difference between these two responses. There’s definitely a different view on timeframes within the two situations, but I can’t speak to where this difference exists and in which contexts I observe it.

Oooo my brain is NOT working.

Things have calmed, I do not feel that despair, that gripping fear that if I stay here I will lose you. I’m feeling more…me recently. More whole and confident in my abilities. More trusting of my skills and ideas. The negative feelings (for now) surrounding the idea of “us” have mostly disappeared, thank goodness, however the firm assuredness about wanting to be with you remains. This is novel for me. Usually, when I feel more confidently Me, that’s when relationship anxiety kicks in because I believe that relationships often make me less Me. With you, I believe this is the opposite of the truth. Now, it is just a fact of my life: a life with you is what I want. There is no questioning, there is no anxiety about unrequited feelings. I can control my actions only and I will fight, upon my return, to be with you. I cannot, for my own sake, spend my time with people I know are not right or good for me anymore. If there is anything that I have learned in the Philippines so far, it’s that family, friends, and love are the most important things in life. It’s just part of life here to stay very physically near to the people you love, to your community. And if you leave, you always return. I am very grateful to be here, because this lesson is something I needed to be reminded of in a very big way.

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