Monday, November 18, 2013

how to belong

Adaptability. You may have heard that's it's the #1 life skill you learn and practice while studying abroad and/or working in an international environment. It definitely is one of them. I'd argue the ability to create a sense of belonging is even greater though.
It's freaking hard to build relationships with strangers who grew up in a world separate from your own, to observe norms you're not familiar with and then take them on yourself... to thrive as the only American woman in an office of tech-minded French guys. And yet, whether or not I actually have an INFJ personality, doing so has been one of the most rewarding foreign experiences thus far.
I worked from home today, and tomorrow, I'll meet the PageYourself team at our new office in the 18th. Au revoir, Le Réfectoire ! We will no longer have medicore burgers and bomb-a** fries at our disposal. But, for the next two weeks at least, I'll continue enjoying a "male-skewed" lunchtime diet. The sentimentality is already kicking in full throttle. I'm going to miss my coworkers.
How did I get to this point? I "kept on swimming", even if I really wanted to give up sometimes. And honestly, that's the most valuable advice I could give. Adapting is a process of excitement, resentment, and acceptance. Sometimes mojitos help, but maintaining perspective on the impermanence is an even safer bet. Now I just have to remind myself that diving into solitary thesis research doesn't at all mean losing these personal and professional connections. Le sigh. Second transition of the year: go!
"There’s an old adage that says you leave pieces of yourself wherever you go, wherever you’ve called home. And I suppose that’s true. But, it’s kind of bullshit, too, like most old adages and their supposed relative truth. It’s not the pieces themselves that matter. It’s the size of those pieces you leave behind and the size of the hole they’re trying to fill that matter. Because you can have the biggest pieces of yourself that are connected to these places and the sense of belonging that you derive from them and still not manage to fill the hole. Your sense of belonging starts when you stop asking other people and places permission to belong. It’s not about where you “feel like” you should be. It’s about where you are, and you belong wherever you are." -Jon Hamlin

14 comments:

  1. Hi Danielle! I recently started re-reading your blog again! I used to read your blog back before you went to France. And I really missed your voice and your writing--it is so good. If I remember correctly, we are both Geminis! And I am an INFJ too. Thanks for the encouragement to "keep swimming" and it is such a needed thing for me today!

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    1. So glad you're back, Grace! Especially because we're both Geminis. I'm blushing hearing that you missed my voice and writing :) best of luck with what's to come for you!

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  2. Lovely post Danielle - wise words and I totally understand where you're coming from ;)

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  3. Keep on swimming is some of the best advice going! We'll get there eventually. Best of luck with your next chapter.
    P.S. And now I want a burger...

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    1. Thanks, dear! Ha, and I want another burger, too.

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  4. "It’s the size of those pieces you leave behind and the size of the hole they’re trying to fill that matter. Because you can have the biggest pieces of yourself that are connected to these places and the sense of belonging that you derive from them and still not manage to fill the hole" great quote, thanks for sharing!

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  5. I completely get what you mean. And I love that quote at the end of your post!

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  6. There is a pretty good chance you and I are in similar boats right now. Adaptability is the language we speak.

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    1. Apparently so, darling. Wishing you the best with your transition!

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