- not false or imitation: real, actual
- true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
I’ve lived in Korea for 7 years:
- I now can eat spicy food.
- I’ve been told I use metal chopsticks better than the average Korean.
- During conversations, I don’t feel uncomfortable during ‘awkward silences’ as I much as I did before.
- I believe I’ve developed better “nunchi“.
- When I’m drinking alcohol with someone quite older, I turn away when I take a drink.
- I bow when I say “hello” or “goodbye” no matter what country I’m in.
These are behaviors and abilities I didn’t possess before living here. I’ve adapted.
But recently I’ve realized that in my adaptation, I lost a bit of myself. I believe I willingly, yet unknowingly, suppressed parts of my individuality in order to fit in. I somehow managed to silence my uniqueness.
Well, this uniqueness is now raging to be heard!
“The teacher within stands guard at the gate of selfhood, warding off whatever insults our integrity and welcoming whatever affirms it. The voice of the inward teacher reminds me of my truth as I negotiate the force field of my life.”
Through visible signs of frustration, impatience, annoyance, and anger, the authentic me is screaming out . It’s extremely confusing and heart wrenching to wonder why, after 7 years, I now feel this way.
Maybe I’m somehow reinventing myself. Maybe it’s because it’s impossible to suppress our authentic selves.
“Any authenticity call ultimately comes from the voice of the teacher within, the voice that invites me to honor the nature of my true self.”
So knowing this is going on for me, I’ve been wondering: as a teacher in a foreign country, how can you honor and celebrate your true self? I think there is incredible vulnerability in this. In Korea, where saving face is the ultimate code of conduct, being yourself — especially when this “self” is on the fringes — isn’t really an option. So why bother? Why not stay in that safe, communal bubble?
“When I devote myself to something that does not flow from my identity, that is not integral to my nature, I am most likely deepening the world’s hunger rather than helping to alleviate it.”
I accept what Parker Palmer has to say, and I even believe it. However, I still can’t articulate what this all means for me. I have no doubt I’ll be working at alleviating the world hunger that he alludes to, but I can’t tell you what that’ll look like.
All I know is that I am experiencing a big shift, and I think it will have an important/significant impact on my teaching. I wonder if any of you have struggled to “just be yourself” with your students or colleagues. Also, how has your authenticity connected to your students’ lives and learning? When you made the conscious choice to share your true self, what was the result?
“Deep speaks to deep, and when we have not sounded our own depths, we cannot sound to the depths of our students’ lives.”
Do you agree?