Torn Between two Cultures

Earlier on this year I decided that I wanted to live a healthier and fit life. I have always eaten healthy and exercised here and there but realistically I know that is not enough. The stress of being a college student and trying to shape the direction of your future can be rather daunting. Matthew has been my biggest inspiration and motivation to embark on this journey. I see how committed he is, then I question myself, why can`t I be self driven like he is? So I finally decided not to keep making up excuses and take action.

food

For as long as I can remember I have always been slender, thin, skinny or whatever you may call it but I have always loved who I am and appreciated what I had. I always walk in confidence everyday knowing that there is only one me and I cannot let what other people think of my physical appearance bother me, allow it to ruin who I am as a person or dictate my life. True beauty is in the soul. When you are skinny and you talk about working out; what are you going to workout for they ask. People think you are mocking them when all you`re trying to do is be healthy.

 I feel that there is a significant number of people trying to lose weight as those trying to gain healthy weight and be fit. There is not as much awareness of people trying to gain some pounds and still be healthy without having an eating disorder. I strongly believe in being healthy and fit regardless of your weight.

All my life growing up in Zambia being thick or curvy has been the center of beauty for generations after generations. You have gained weight, you look very nice! This is one popular compliment that someone can give you in my culture. Every time my mother would say to me, “You need to eat more.” I could sense the desperation of a mother trying to protect her daughter from what society has in store for her to face. I always wondered to myself if I needed to be concerned as to why I have always been skinny but deep down I knew that I was healthy and there was nothing wrong with me.

When I came to the U.S, it was a hug life changing experience. Every single person I met was obsessed about their weight, diet and if they worked out that week or not. I kept asking myself, why do people want to loose weight so much here when they are beautiful? I then realized that what was considered beautiful in america is totally different from what I grew up knowing. Everyone kept telling me how lucky I was that I did not have to worry about my weight. At the back of my head I am thinking I need to gain weight.

This culture shock made me realize that what was important to me was to feel good about myself regardless of whatever beauty standards are out there in Africa, America, Europe, Asia etc. Once you learn to love yourself, it does not matter what everybody say. Everyone is beautiful in there own special way and brains are a huge part of it.

 

 

So Foreign

When you first arrive in a completely new place, no friends, no family; you first try to notice people that kind of look and talk like you but then you remind yourself how stupid that sounds because you are not in your homeland. You still try to find some familiarity to your home hoping you just have not lost it all. You don`t know where to start, who to talk to, who can help you make sense of this new world. You are nervous and excited… weird feeling I know right? You keep going back and forth thinking it was the worst decision of your life. I am thinking to myself, why the hell did I leave home? I have everything there and now I have to start over. But then I am like, it is good to challenge myself and expand my boundaries. An inner voice says to me,” You can do it”

The most real questions hit me, who can I trust? who is going to get me? who is genuinely going to care for me? Everyone seems to only have one goal in mind, how to make it and survive in this new country. I know I have a great support system but it is all back in Zambia. I need a new system pronto if I have to survive the battle between me versus me. I am thinking I can just go back home and everything will just fall back into place but then I tell myself that I am not a quitter. I remember my father always telling me and my siblings that you always have to finish what you have started… Who is going to finish it for you?

I then tell myself, you have already started this journey, at least think of it as an adventure then maybe it may sound less intimidating; there is no talking myself out of it. I am already here, a student, a foreign student in this big world. My dreams of studying and living abroad just got even bigger.