Having been an expat for about 20 years of my life, the one issue that always sort of popped up was this fitting-in thing. I lived in Düsseldorf, München, Paris, Zürich, Madrid, New York just to name a few places and subsequently ended back in my birth town The Hague. Much to my own surprise by the way.
Traveling and moving all these years thought me that no matter how hard you try (and I tried!), you’ll never just quite fit-in anywhere. At some point I stopped trying and enjoyed the part of being just a little different. Just not quite fitting-in! Looking back I think I made that decision in the Paris metro. I was young, insecure as could be and going for my first job interview. Well dressed and on high heals. It was somewhere between eight and nine a clock in the morning and the metro was packed. Packed with people that were all a lot shorter then me. That piece of insight came with a bit of a shock! I realised that I could look over everybody’s head right through to the other end of the wagon. As a young woman that did not feel good. At home a was considered tall, in France I was a giant. As a matter of fact, sticking out like a sore thumb would accurately describe the situation.
Anyway, I got the job and I’ll never forget the managers words: You are a bit young for the job but you have presence (the French can be so charming). I never wore high heels again, which had nothing to do with my length but everything with French cobble stone streets. I also made the decision that fitting-in was no longer one of my lifetime goals.
Fast forward plus minus thirty years. The Hague. My birth town were I now have stayed put for the last ten years.
You might have noticed that our Queen has abdicated and that we will have a new King. And Queen, mind you, an expatriate Queen. I can’t help myself and wonder what she must be thinking. All these weird people walking around in orange. Drinking orange drinks and eating orange food, of which some give you a toothache by just looking at them. This crazy but very fun habit of emptying your garage/cellar/ attic and trying to sell all your stuff off on the street, preferably at six in the morning only to then go and spend your just earned money and buy new stuff that you then as an result will have to sell again the following year. Somehow I have this sneaking suspicion she might not feel very fitting-in whilst waving at an orange dressed, eating & drinking and bobbing crowd.
Looking at her I also have a sneaking suspicion that she too at some point must have made the decision that fitting-in is not one of her lifetime goals. Considering the always present smile on her face!?
Me, well I still happily just don’t quite fit in. Not even on Kings day. Living abroad for such a long time gives you a different perspective on Kings day and life in general. And at the end of the day isn’t that whats it’s all about, a matter of perspective!!