|©Expat Life with a Double Buggy|
Many, many years ago I read an article in the Dutch daily newspaper, the NRC, about how people wear 'masks' according to the situation they find themselves in and who they are with.
In essence, people are only really one hundred percent themselves when they are alone. With a partner most, if not all, of the facades come down. However, when people are amongst strangers a wall goes up, or a mask goes on. We adapt to the group we are with.
It is an article that struck me at the time because I can relate to that idea. I'm an introvert. I'm uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations and that means there are very few people on this planet that know the real me. Becoming an expat made the idea of wearing a mask in some situations even more poignant. I have a British mask, my expat mask, my wife mask, my mother mask, my daughter-in-law mask, my writer mask....... and I'm sure this is just a selection of my mask collection.
It's a topic I have touched upon before in an article for Expat Harem. The very nature of being an expat means adapting. It often means communicating in a foreign language. It means hanging with people you don't know. It means following a steep learning curve. It means starting again. It means taking on parts of a new culture. It means reshaping everything you know and moulding it into a new daily life.
How many masks then does an expat wear? How many versions of ourselves are there? Do expats hide a part of themselves away to blend in with their surroundings? Can we really be truly ourselves and let our personality shine though when we are communicating in a foreign language and wrestling with cultural quirks that feel alien and uncomfortable? Does leaving our friends and family behind mean we leave a little part of who we are elsewhere? Do we reinvent ourselves with every new country, or do we stay true to the essence of who we are?
What do you think? Do you hide part of yourself away because you live in a foreign country? Can you let the real you shine through when you live in unfamiliar surroundings?
*This post has been adapted from a post published originally on my blog A Letter from the Netherlands*