I’m sitting here trying to think about how I can word everything in my head and still make sense when it comes out. It’s all kind of like a dream, you know when you feel so many emotions in a deep dream, to wake up and try to explain, but you can’t. The last several years of my life have been rocky to say the least, but I feel like the worst is over and I’m finally learning to just “be”, you know be happy, be positive, be grateful and all that good stuff. And honestly I am, a million times over, but I’m in a weird place.
You see, I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia for almost 10 years now, I’m not one of those expats that live in an expat bubble, I’m actually out there living like a Saudi would. I work in a Saudi business, amongst Saudis, I’ve lived with Saudis, my friends are Saudi and I go out everyday just like everyone else. Through all this time I’ve learned the culture and traditions, I know it well. I know how life is here! My friends joke and call me a Saudi American because of this, and it’s weird sometimes to see myself like this. Not because the culture is weird, but because I’ve changed. And the thing is that after 10 years of living somewhere, you would too. I’ve spent my entire adult life here, I’ve grown here. I will probably live my entire life here, which means I’ll spend much more of my life in Saudi, than my own country.
I’m in this really strange American/Saudi place right now, and I’m not sure where I belong. I’m an American Muslim, so in my country, I kind of don’t belong there, and I’m an American here, so I don’t really belong either. Where is my place in the world? I’m not sure? In Saudi you have to be very cautious of your every move, unlike back home. Don’t talk too loud, or tell anyone your private business, you can’t be friends with a man or you can’t dress how you would like. I always feel like I get anxiety when I go out watching my every move, and it’s exhausting. And then when I’m around my own people I can’t really talk about my life, especially being Southern. Most of the people where I’m from are pretty close minded and super Southern Baptist, so yeah, you can imagine. It’s like two cultures that are extremely similar, yet so very different.
And the weird thing is, this isn’t about anyone else or caring what others think, although I know it sounds like it. This is about this strange feeling that I have inside (I told you it was hard to explain). I’m watching myself from the outside like a ghost and thinking “who are you lady, what’s going on here?”. And I don’t know what to say!