When studying abroad, I feel like you either go to find yourself or you soon realize you will not return the same person you were before.
Whether it was purposeful or completely by accident, being abroad changes the deepest parts of you that you never realized could be changed. When we are home, we are a solid Jenga tower where everything fits in place as it should. Then as you leave your comfort zone, you have to take away some old pieces and rearrange things to better suit your new environment.
Some pieces are harder to remove and some glide out of place so easily, you question why they were there in the first place. All the while, you feel a bit more unsteady and you don't look up to realize you've grown taller than you ever were before.
Morocco is a beautiful country that I love very much. I thought I knew the reality of Morocco and what I was getting myself into. So many parts of this journey have been beautiful and amazing but there are things I haven't shared in the light of social media that I have been struggling with.
The main thing I am struggling with are the rules in Morocco.
You can walk in the middle of the highway, but you have three pairs of house shoes and rules on when and where to wear those shoes. I thought I always dressed modestly but I learned very quickly that I do not. I have struggled to find the balance between being modest enough, but not too modest to wear a hijab because that is something I should not do.
I have felt like there is this list of rules floating above my head that I can't reach to know what they are, so I keep breaking all of them.
I have really felt like I have lost my identity.
I thought coming to Morocco would allow me to find myself, but I am told when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, what to wear, how many layers to wear, when to sleep, how long to sleep, what emotions I am allowed to feel, when I am allowed to feel them, how I am allowed to show my feelings, and so on.
What is the line between being culturally sensitive and being culturally puppeted?
I have cried and prayed so much. Not once have I wished to go home. Not once have I questioned God's plan. He has told me that my identity is not found in what rules I follow and which I break. My identity is not found in what I wear or how I wear it. My identity is not found in anything I do or don't do. My identity is found in Him alone.
That hasn't changed anyone around me, but it has made me stronger. It has given me an image of the plan God has for me. He gave me the image of a Jenga tower. Parts of me have to be taken away, worked on and put back in a new place in order for me to grow. While I might wobble and feel unsteady, God has a steady hand. He will not move too many pieces so that I fall over.
But even if my Jenga tower falls and everything I am crashes down, He will build me up again.
When you are finding yourself, if you really want to change, it is going to be hard, you are going to be unsteady at times and things will get messy. I have definitely seen how I place my identity in the hands of those around me. I went around the world looking for myself only to see how silly it is because I am found in Christ.
You can tell me how to dress and how to feel but that is not who I am. I am a child of God and He is pleased. Anything beyond that is man-made.