This post will remain untitled until I have a word that fits it nicely. Photo: a sunny evening walk with a friend and the dog (Anisa Maya Dhanji, June 2017)
I haven’t written in weeks and when I’ve tried to sit down to do so, the thoughts or words don’t come. So this afternoon, I thought I’d give it a go – even if it’s not worded in the exact way I feel:
I can’t say that my first month and a half home was tame; it definitely wasn’t. On top of school, adjusting and reflection, I have been struggling with things that I did not think I’d need to. First, although I knew it wasn’t great, I had believed that life with my family at home had at least improved in the slightest bit during my absence. And at first (the first week), it had seemed that way. However, it didn’t last long and these past two weeks have felt like some kind of hurricane. Luckily, things have calmed down and will hopefully remain this way for a long while. I will note, that I will not go into details simply due to how personal the issue is within the family.
Second, I feel as though I’m not a *real* person. This is in part a cause of adjustment: I had my own life built in France. I was accountable for me. And as selfish as this sounds, it’s much easier to live that way – but not necessarily better. Here, I am interconnected in so many ways, each having some affect on my return (friends, family, school relationships, groups, etc.). Do I remain a person [who is thought of] in these relationships/lives? Or moreso, do I feel thought of? I tried to ignore it, but the answer is a firm no. And at first, I naively thought everything would be the same as I left it or maybe even stronger. But I feel distant, forgotten, replaced and sometimes ignored. And now, I’m trying to learn how to cope with hurt I feel from people who I love. I can say that even though I had a wonderful time working abroad, I had missed my circles here and I don’t prefer living singularly: being accountable for me only. Sometimes, I feel just as or even more singular – but a choice not made by me; by those who I love.
On another note, strangers have also made me feel less of a person. Comments [racial/ethnicity/etc.] that I thought would no longer bury so deep in me, still do. I’ve had a handful of encounters with people who I don’t know question and doubt me about me. What’s more is that it has happened around places that I can’t avoid, whether it be on the bus, in my complex corridors or on the school campus. People around me have these circles that bring them closer to their ethnic/ancestral identities and I feel as though I don’t have that – or as strongly.
There have been other smaller things also in and around mine/others’ lives that have been confusing and deserve thinking. So as you might imagine, things have been messy. And quite honestly, it [everything] feels lonely. Lonely to know that there aren’t people close to me who understand everything that’s happened and/or still happening.
A few exciting things have happened in the mix of all of this. It’s been hard to focus on these good things because of the latest happenings in my life. But I feel it’s important to mention them:
School has been going nicely. One of my courses, first language acquisition finished on Tuesday since it was intersession. It was a challenge. The course itself is very abstract and to do it in 6 weeks was wild. But I loved the things I learned and ideas I was pushed to think about. The course is a combination of all the puzzle piecing we often do in linguistics, applied to one of our biggest mysteries: how do we acquire language in the first place? As mentioned, it was very abstract and involved a lot of thinking. I had thought I wasn’t doing all that well considering how well I’ve usually been doing in my upper division linguistics courses. I didn’t want to end up with a C+ or a B. But I recently learned, that with all my grades correctly calculated and weighted, I actually have a solid A. I had a research final worth a quarter of my grade which I handed in on Tuesday and so I’m hoping that it goes okay. French too, is going okay. I’m still not receiving top notch A+ marks, but I’m improving and I have more confidence to participate even though I make many mistakes. And since my Linguistics class is finished, I have more time to focus on French. I’ve also made a friend who also studies French and Linguistics, which has been really nice. A lot of my friends (but not all) have or are graduating and so it’s a comfortable thought to share a classroom with a familiar face.
I recently was hired as a research assistant in the neurolinguistics lab at my university. For the first 2-3 months, it will be volunteer work. But if I enjoy my position and stay longer than a full semester, I’ll be hired on as a permanent research assistant. I started this past week. The lab is directed by one of my favourite professors who I’ve had a couple times. She also seemed to remember me, which was also quite nice. I’ve been assigned to a project studying clear and plain speech with a focus on Mandarin tones. This research is one part of a 3-part project. I believe this is the last part of the entire project. I’ve been put on the data analysis team, which is a little intimidating, but so far everything is going nicely.
Mum invited me out to Maui with her at the beginning of August (given I pay for my flight). She also invited my friends, two of whom will be joining us. I can’t wait!
On a side note, the pool at our complex finally opened this week which has made for some nice evening swims. I’ve also been trying to continue taking time to grocery shop, cook and bake. And every weekend, a/some friend(s) and I go for a walk around the nearby lake with my dog.
Happy Summer and enjoy the sun (in the safest way possible i.e. sunscreen, water, etc.)!