I have this love-hate relationship with America. As a whole, I love the country. I love where I am from. I love the freedom we are provided. I love that I am exposed to so many opportunities and walks of life. With only about 3.5 months left in Namibia though, I’m seeing a trend that first appeared when I was in Italy. Before I explain that, let me just say that American society puts a lot of pressure on us. From celebrities to politics to other cultural expectations there is a lot that we should be doing in order to be awesome people! We need to have an awesome job, we need to have awesome friends, we need to do awesome things, we need to have awesome bodies, and so on. That is what society is always telling us. I am guilty of falling into that trap. I’m guilty of being very health conscious and up to date on all the latest fashions. I don’t think that is wrong, but I do think that it can be taken too far and made into a very undeserving idol.
As for my love-hate affair, I love my country, but as soon as I leave, a part of me feels freer. I feel this heavy load taken off of my shoulders. I first felt this in Italy. As I walked the streets of Rome, I saw that all women were beautiful in different ways. It’s not so much your figure, but more about how you work it. While there, I roomed with five other girls, all different ethnicities, shapes, and styles, and on a daily basis I believe that every single one of us felt beautiful. Did the men telling you help? Sure, but it was more than that. There was something in the air that made you walk prouder and with more confidence. In some ways, I feel that again here in Namibia. Again, all different looks, shapes, and sizes are considered beautiful. In fact, most people seem to lean more towards a full-figured woman. They’re beautiful, they work what they’ve got, and they don’t show any insecurity. That air, that confidence transfers as you enter the country. You can go out and be as stupid as you want, I mean ridiculously stupid dancing like a cow, and people are intrigued by your ability to be yourself! If a group of girls did that in America, well, let’s face it, you would be highly talked about and the stank eye would be thrown at you from all different directions. In this situation does it help that we are a group of Americans? Probably so, but as most of us know, I’m a very analytical person and an avid people watcher. The Namibian women get the same attention that we do!
For me, I’ve adapted some of that Namibian confidence. I am more comfortable being my weird self with others, my guard is not up as often, and I find myself worrying much less about what people think. Thinking about going back though, my American brain starts working its way back into my current Namibian body. It is reminding me how important physique is, as well as career, car, etc. This is where my love-hate relationship plays in. I hate that we are so vain and materialistic, but I can’t say that I don’t fall into the category because I enjoy the material things in my life. I hate the extent we take it all to though. The fact that we have so many pairs of shoes and that our flaws are so frowned upon by others.
A couple weeks ago, I spoke about this topic with my mom. I’m not 100% sure why all of my insecurities go away once I leave home, but I think a huge part of that is knowing that this is temporary. That the people I meet along the way won’t remember me from the next volunteer that they meet. Like seriously, they don’t. People have thought I was a past volunteer and have asked me about my husband...he’s swell! I don’t really like the idea of living a life full of temporary things though. I’m more of a long-term kind of girl, so I’m hoping that I can find a way to transfer these Italian and Namibian discoveries into my American life. I don’t want to go home and feel like I’m not living up to the freedom that America has promised me. I want my personal freedom to extend into my personal life whether it is through my actions, goals, looks, etc. I ultimately want my personality to be what captivates others. Loud. A little socially awkward. A follower of Christ. Compassionate. A believer in second chances.