Originally posted on Heart of the Nomad
I sit staring out the window at my reflection in the side door mirror. The traffic is stopped and 80s music is pounding through the air, making my temples throb harder. It takes all the strength I can muster not to snap at my mom who is trying to pull me out of the depressed introverted state I am in.
I can’t blame her. I am being miserable company. What’s worse is I have no answer for her when she asks me what’s wrong.
That’s a lie, I do have an answer, but I cannot express it in a way that would be tactful or that would make her understand.
The whole day had gone along in this manner. We had driven up to Studio City to eat lunch with my sister. During the ride up I had sat consumed in my thoughts, ear bud in listening to a podcast to avoid the idol chatter that has recently become the bane of my existence.
We arrive at the restaurant and my poor mother is trying to make conversation with me and is met with my short passive-aggressive responses. We stand outside of the small café; it is the kind that has an eclectic mix of tables and chairs and trendy vegan menu. A few years past, some actor shot his wife out front, in normal LA fashion. The line is long and the people surrounding us are engaged in idol chatter, it seems I cannot escape it.
I pray my sister will get here soon so I can shrink back into the depths of my own thoughts and not feel guilty about it. After a few long minutes of pretending to look at the menu, my sister finally appears with her boyfriend in toe. Matt and Ashley hug each of us and then dive into conversation with my mom, who I can tell by the enthusiasm in her voice, is glad to have someone to talk to.
We slip inside the café door and the place is filled, loud and crowed with conversation and people. I can feel the anxiety rise inside me as I become more and more socially awkward. While normally I am able to be more extroverted, on days like today my introversion holds me back, I just don’t have the energy to hold up the façade. We reach the counter and I order first, and then stand off to the side, extremely aware of how my body fills the space, trying and failing to find a place where I’m not in the way.
We walk through the restaurant to the back patio where we stand deciding between two tables. I just want to sit down and don’t understand the dilemma. Finally it is decided that we will at a small table in the back corner next to a broken heat lamp. I take my seat and they settle into a conversation, I slip into my thoughts while giving a smile or nod every once in a while to show I am present.
But I am not present. I know they know it too, but they don’t ask why. I fear they don’t care. I have become un-relatable. Things have changed, or rather I have changed and things have remained the same.
Travel has changed me. I have lived this life apart from my home, the people who have known me my whole life, and now it is as if they did not know me.
I have tried over the past year to express myself, to tell my family about who I am becoming, but the words are never adequate. It is the most frustrating thing, having intense emotional connections to a state of being, something that is so fundamentally you, and not knowing how to express it so others will understand the depth and meaning it hold for you.
I have become un-relatable. I have given up. What’s more, I am about to impart on the biggest adventure of my life, taking control and choosing my path, but I can’t figure out how to tell my family in a way that would convince them I am capable of what I am about to do.
Since I can’t seem to muster up the confidence or bravado to be completely honest about how I am going to move abroad and live nomadically making writing my full-time gig, I decide to just say I am going to teach English for a while in Bangkok. It isn’t a complete lie, it is what I intend to do to begin with, but my plans go deeper, my dreams, bigger.
How could these people who have known me my whole life, have raised me or grown up with me possibly be able to believe that I am capable of such a feat? I am their daughter, sister, grandchild; it is other people who go live crazy lives, not their own family members. So I decide to keep it in. Decide to hide what I am from the people I love so I won’t have to face their rejection or judgment. Instead I will just take action and then I will be able to stand firm in my resolve. They will have to listen then.
But sitting in the car, I keep coming back to this point in my head. It is lonely when you cannot relate to anyone, when you cannot be yourself. I want to be transparent, I want to be confident in myself and in my plans, but I fear that if I am, my motivation will be killed. Someone will infiltrate my resolve and convince me to change my plans. The thing I care more about then not being lonely is loosing my dreams of freedom.
Then how do I precede? How do I learn to stand in full confidence of my plans and actions? Action in itself I believe will make me confident, and that is what I am banking on. That I would announce my trip in full bravado to my friends and family that they will have to believe me, but I would also do so in a time window that wouldn’t allow for anyone time to attempt to talk me out of it. Sometimes I worry that this approach is the easy way out, that I am being a coward by not standing up for my dreams from the get-go, but I also feel a need to be realistic with where I am. I know that my confidence is something I need to work on, and that as much as I like to pretend differently, people’s opinions of me do matter. I hate myself sometimes for not being a stronger person. Then I remind myself that I am human and the point of this journey is a learning experience.
I don’t know if I am making the right decision. I do know that the decision I am making will insure action though, and I believe that action is THE most important step. So therefore I conclude that this must be justifiable, and hope that through this approach, I will be able to fully recognize my own will and abilities and standing up for myself will become easier over time.