Not Quite as Planned

My day is not going quite as planned.  Sometimes this is good, like today, when it is actually going better than planned.  Other times it is disconcerting, like when my whole move does not go as planned.

Sometimes I get to see “God work all things together for good.”  Even some snarky comments made about America and Americans.  Allow me to briefly explain, I was at a party and met a Kiwi who probably had a few glasses of wine so the usual polite reserve was gone.  Instead I got an earful about how dreadful America and Americans are and how people (i.e. this guy) in New Zealand do not like Americans, ergo, that is why I have not found a job yet.  I am sorry to say, this threw me for a loop.  It is especially odd,  because as most of you know, I am not exactly enthusiastic about America myself.  I have always thought of myself as first a follower of Christ, then a global citizen, and then a Californian, and only then a person with an American passport.

Moving overseas has helped me learn that, yep, I am an American.  Not just my accent, but my assumptions, and my self confidence (which can seem brash or arrogant in other cultures).  I feel a little silly now admitting how much these comments bothered me (and I am almost sure the person saying had no idea of their impact).   As I told my mom on the phone, “After all we saved their asses in WWII.”  Of course that is not the point.  The point is that it is never fun to be on the receiving end of someone’s stereotypes.  And stereotypes are only powerful because there is truth to them.

It reminded me of when I first started my career after grad school, and I was working in a male dominated field with a lot of older men who resented women in the workforce.  I remember thinking, not much I can do about that.  It really hurt though.  It is so unfair.  As prejudice always is.

I cannot do much about being an American either.  So this rude Kiwi (against stereotype) did me a favor.

1) I came to grips with who I am perceived to be at first acquaintance.  I am better prepared for the next person who is triggered by Americans.  There is so much positive about America too and moving abroad is teaching me that as well.

2) It resulted in asking for help from friends and getting an introduction to a headhunter that might ultimately lead to a job.  We are having coffee tomorrow!

3) It resulted in a job offer from Mexicali Cindy who is willing to hire me to work at one of their restaurants over the summer (next few months).  I will get a work visa, have money to pay my bills, and probably have some fun.  My friend Mara already pointed out that this may be a real blessing as it will allow me to spend more time redesigning.

I also learned that no matter how much I want to tell myself I am all alone in this–I am NOT alone.  So many people reached out and let me know that I am supported and loved in the last few days.  Wow.  I have an e-mail from Sarah and Tevis each that I will print out and save.  I am blessed, blessed, blessed with the things that really matter.

6 thoughts on “Not Quite as Planned

  1. i’ve been meaning to tell you thank you. you’re making me feel not-so-alone-in-this when it comes to my transition in the south. it’ll be two years in january and yet, somehow, i’m still finding myself frustrated with the culture change. but when you talk about the culture changes YOU’RE experiencing, well, it brings back fond memories of my time in england, and it also makes me realize i’m not so crazy after all for feeling so out of place here sometimes. we’re living the dream in different cultures. that’s why we moved after all, right? to experience something new. so between your words of strength and wisdom, and the encouragement i receive from our sovereign Lord, i think i’m maybe gonna make it. so thank you!

  2. Julie…..brilliant as always in your honest approach and reflections. You are not alone. And, hooray for Mexicali Cindy! I’m hopeful that perhaps she’s Mexican and you get to work at a Mexican restaurant because part of being a Californian is knowing amazing Mexican culture and food. That would be nice to have in NZ. 🙂 A friend and margarita after a day of work (or not!) is a great celebration of the mixing of cultures and of community. Love You.

  3. Hi Julie …

    To reiterate the comments made above … thanks. I now feel less alone too … not because I needed a reminder to know I’m not nuts, not because I need to find the beauties of being an American and/or even a USC grad (boy, wait ’til that reality hits you — it was a BIG surprise for me) … but, because one of the core people in my life has been brought closer to me by a shared reality.

    I’ve now lived almost 14 years abroad, and almost daily I’ve been told how much my country and culture (and thus indirectly) I am hated. No biggie, I’m an adult and can take distance from it even when it hurts. But, now Julie, you can help me share the burden of having raised three kids in a culture where they have been resented, hated, mocked, and berated … for no reason other than their passport identification. That’s tough as a “mommy”.

    Two of my three have passed the “adult” finishing line … and I am confident that the Lord will turn the scars into gems that have purpose for HIS will in this messed up world. But, it is hard being out there on the front lines of assault on your identity.

    I am VERY GLAD that you’ve been offered a job. And I’m VERY GLAD that the drunk guy actually came out and said it bluntly … it’s something I tried to hint around at in my last blog comment. Being an American with expertise is not always welcomed … in fact, after 14 years on this side of things, I’ve learned it’s more effective to completely underrate my skills, volunteer for things free-of-charge, and hope that “the cream rises” and folks come to their own assessment once they can see me as an individual, separate from my passport cover.

    As always, I’m praying for you, cheering for you in cyber-space, and so glad for the reality check you were offered, despite how painful it is!

    Big HUGS as you face your first SUMMERTIME CHRISTMAS!

    Susie

  4. wow. just remember than even tho that guy gave you a head’s up about some stereotypes and prejudices, he doesn’t represent all new zealanders any more than you represent all americans. pretty harsh to say that you don’t have a job because of something you can’t change, and to say that to you when you are looking for work that you need! hits where you are most vulnerable. but why believe him? surely you would not have had those interviews if everyone felt that way.

    it is good to remember that others can see us so differently than we see ourselves, and to figure out how to work around that.

    working in a restaurant sounds fun (not necessarily easy but very different) and a good way to meet people. I bet you would enjoy that for a while.

    keep your chin up.

  5. Helen Thomson just returned from New Zealand (I didn’t know or I would have told her to look you up!) raving about the country’s beauty. I saw Paul Yoder, too, and he similarly raved about his trip. So at least you’re in a fabulous place!

    Have a great time this summer, working and meeting more new people!

    Petrea

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