On Monday, while participating in an art class, I began to be more aware of some of my cultural differences from women who've grown up in Texas. On the surface, everyone is friendly and kind, but I suspect there are underlying levels of being ladylike that aren't part of my repertoire. It's hard to put my finger on it, but I sensed that if I came in as my opinionated, bossy self, I'd turn people off. Heck, I've probably been doing that for years! I've met many people so far who seem to like me as I am, but my sense is that they may be exceptions to the dominant culture.
Last night Jrex and I had a fun, wide-ranging conversation. At one point I mused that I was going to have to change to live here. In many ways, where we are living is like a small town with access to a city. There's the good of a small town (friendly neighbors, easy access to shops and activities, looking out for each other) and the challenges (gossip, long memories, cliques). I've never gone out of my way to burn bridges, but there's always been an 'out'. If something goes wrong, it doesn't matter that much cause we'll be moving in a couple years. Now however, there's a sense that if I burn any bridges, or act rudely, or merely speak too often without a filter, it might live for a long, long time in people's memories. As far as we know, we may be here the rest of our lives. It's intimidating! I feel like I did in junior high school: nervous about being myself, trying to fit into groups that are very different than the culture in which I grew up, aware of cliques but not really having the right elements to break into them. My solution in high school was to go through an F--- You phase where I just stopped caring what people thought. It's been a useful tool for a long time, but I don't think it will serve me well here. Whether I care what they think or not, Brex will have to deal with consequences of my actions. It's a weird reality.
So, somehow I have to soften a little, slow down, be more considerate and try to calm my restless nature. I'm nervous though because the last time I tried to change 'who I am' to fit a dominant culture, it was like I killed my soul for a few years. Therefore, I'm praying that the Lord would lead us to the friends he has for us here. Some of the women that I've met are totally fine with me as I am and so I see those as places to continue to invest. It's more that when I go into a big group setting I can't just blaze in there. I'm praying for a church that feels like home. Once kids enter the picture, there's also an element where kids the same age help cement a friendship, so I'm praying for more of those. Praying for other families where we as a couple get along with the other couple equally well.
Totally off topic, here's little rocket man: