I was going to blog today about my daily life here in Holland, and how I experienced the Holland-Japan world cup match, but then I realized that these topics are not what I want to write about at all. So, instead of daily life I am going to write about how my personality is dying ever since I came back to Holland.
Over the past few weeks I have been forced (perhaps ‘given the chance’ is a better phrasing) to develop my unique personality. Traveling by bicycle by myself, never hanging out with the same people for very long, you always have to present yourself anew to whomever you meet. At every encounter you get a chance to reinvent yourself. Why not introduce myself as Jim from Australia who owns a sheep farm? Well, I never went that far, but I did try to give other people a good first impression of myself by selectively emphasizing some parts of my life while leaving other parts out.
It’s interesting to have a chance to meet new people, and give them an impression of yourself based on the qualities that you think are important to you. If you think that making international friends is important, then you mention that. If you think it’s important that you drank a lot of beer last night, then you mention that. People will form an image of you based on what you tell them at your first encounter, and then develop that image from there. It matters a lot what you tell them first. During my trip I initially started out tentative, gauging the personality of the other person and telling him things about myself that I thought he might agree with or be similar in. Later on in the trip I got used to meeting new people and didn’t really care what I said about myself anymore. At times I didn’t say anything about myself, or sometimes I would just say something without thinking.
At home nobody cares what you say. They won’t change their mental image of you just because you say something new. They already know you, through and through. There’s no way in hell that they suddenly will think differently of you. And, vice versa, because they treat you the same way they usually do, you revert back to your old personality. Two months (four years!) of individuality, gone. I’m back at the place where time stands still and everybody is still the same as four years ago. I’m the only one who changed, and I no longer fit in. Of course it’s not like that. From the point of view of other people a lot of things changed, including me. They probably think it’s strange for me to not accept the current state of affairs.
This sounds a little vague, so here’s a real-life example. I am staying in my parents’ place, and they operate on a schedule. Every day lunch is at 12:15, dinner is at 18:00. No exception, except perhaps on weekends where the time may differ within a 30 minute margin. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if there were nice places to eat around here, but this is without a doubt the countryside, and (affordable) restaurants are not very close. Besides that I actually have to worry about where to eat in Holland, because the quality of the food at the restaurants here is definitely lower than in Japan, where you can eat anywhere, no worries. Basically it’s more convenient for me to stick to the eating schedule here. I can’t just walk out to a convenience store in the middle of the night and buy whatever food I feel like. I could give more examples here about how I am expected to go shopping with the family on weekends, go out to meet the locals, etc etc.
I’m a random person. I like to decide what I do with my life, and I don’t like to compromise for other peoples’ sake. My life is my life, and I am opposed to anything and everything that stands in the way of my individual lifestyle. Right now my mind is telling me that I don’t like this place. I need to get away from here. I’m afraid that if I stay here too long that I’ll be able to accept this life. If I had never gone to Japan I might have lived here happily ever after, but right now this place just feels like shit. If I stay here for a long period of time then the personality that I’ve developed while I was in Japan will die, and I don’t want that. I like the Japan-me a million times better than the Holland-me. I hate it that people here treat me like the Holland-me, and I’m losing my patience with the situation.