Seeing old friends in the United States after living for a year in Greece, the question I heard more than any other was,
“Are you happy to be home?”
Which is a weird question, because why not the much easier and more common, “How are you?”
Here’s why, says my internet-ranting brain: because people assume that home is better than away, and that they know what I like and need more than I do!!
I’m being too harsh, I know, and I ought to be grateful that people paid attention to my life at all, I know (though not anymore, haha!). But it touched a nerve.
So people kept asking, “Are you happy to be home?” and I kept lying and saying, “Yes!”
That was easier than saying the true answer, which is something like, “Not really. I mean, it’s nice to sleep all the time and for my mom to make me hot chocolate, but I miss Athens. I miss having my own home, and while I love being with Rory Cat, I miss Hans Harrison and worry that he’s adjusting to his new home. I miss the friends that I was just starting to feel close to and all the people that were bringing out new passions in me and creating safe places for me. I miss waking up with a purpose and going to work and knowing that I am a valuable part of a really wonderful organization. I want to be there for Christmas parties, and I want to eat souvlaki, and I want to misunderstand someone’s Greek, and I want to walk to the metro station while listening to a podcast, and sure it’s nice to have the freedom of driving again, but I’ve CHANGED, and I feel like you are trying to make me into who I used to be with this stupid question about how much better it is to be home than to be in this amazing ugly cool place that I made my own!!!!”
Alternative Comments For When Someone Returns From Living Abroad
- “I’m so glad to see you! How are you?”
- “Tell me about your time in XXX. I’d love to hear.”
- “You must be feeling a lot of things! I hope you’re doing okay.”
- “The crazy look in your eyes makes me think you’re over-sensitive. I’m just going to hug you and then walk away slowly.”
I hate learning foreign languages. It necessarily makes you feel dumber than a three-year-old, and there are few things I hate more than feeling dumb (maybe pulling teeth or horror movies). But there is one huge benefit: with a grasp on only a handful of phrases, speaking in a foreign language forces people to be more intimate and vulnerable.
I like to use words to my advantage, spinning out sentences that make me seem self-effacing or funny or smart. The more I say, the less it really means. But when I’m in Mongolia, I cannot say, “You didn’t have to do that!” I can only say, “Thank you.” When I’m in Senegal, I cannot say, “That dress is really flattering, and wow! Your hair!” I simply say, “You are very beautiful.” When I’m in Greece, I cannot say, “I really appreciate what you did for me, that was great!” I have to say “I love you.” Continue reading
It seems to be a cool thing to denigrate Generation Y as being self-absorbed and entitled. A lot of this has to do with my generation’s love of social media and the rise of the selfie art form. And sure, there are some problematic tendencies with my peers’ culture. Are we sometimes self-absorbed and entitled? Sure. But I don’t think selfie culture is all bad.
Ezra Koenig, lead singer of the awesome band Vampire Weekend, once said something that completely solidified my positive opinion of selfies.
“I’m definitely pro-selfie. I think that anybody who’s anti-selfie is really just a hater. Because, truthfully, why shouldn’t people take pictures of themselves? When I’m on Instagram and I see that somebody took a picture of themselves, I’m like, ‘Thank you.’ I don’t need to see a picture of the sky, the trees, plants. There’s only one you. I could Google image search ‘the sky’ and I would probably see beautiful images to knock my socks off. But I can’t Google, you know, ‘What does my friend look like today?’ For you to be able to take a picture of yourself that you feel good enough about to share with the world – I think that’s a great thing.”
One of the worst things about being single are the comments that come your way from well-meaning friends, relatives, and acquaintances. My favorite (by which I mean my least favorite) is the question, “Why are you single?” Sometimes I am tempted to pull a Bridget Jones and pretend to have a skin malady of hidden green scales. One time I sarcastically responded, “I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me why you think I’m single?” I was met with uncomfortable silence. There is simply no good answer. If there were a specific obstacle keeping me single, I would do my best to remove it. And anyway, that question just highlights the fact that I am alone, with an unpleasant undertone of “and that’s not okay.”
Knowing my abhorrence of this trend, imagine my delight when in chapter seven of The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller lists four common Christian explanations of singleness….and a sassy retort. Continue reading