Culture shock

I’ve learned about culture shock in sociology,anthropology and psychology classes but have never experienced it. Defined as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitude” I can attest that it is a real phenomenon. The disconnection and isolation I feel periodically sends me into minor depressive episodes which is generally followed by an overwhelming sense of happiness. Despite the disconnection I feel, being part of HH has given me a sense of purpose. Reminding myself of the great work I am doing and the massive amounts of important values and knowledge I am learning is one of the main joys I get. I feel rather indifferent about HH, mainly because I feel immensely misunderstood and a bit ostracized in various ways. There are so many social cues and unspoken cultural agreements that I have NEVER encountered that feel like a wedge. I have had some really interpersonal connections that seem to pass as suddenly as they arrived. For the first time in a long time I feel sorrow for lack of deep conversations. Like the ones I had with my Kentucky comrades. However, I must add, I have never really truly felt as though I fit in as an understood person of adequate knowledge( which is slowly starting to feel okay.) After all,  I am unique! My history , my ideals, my ethics and my social culture are so different and I feel a daily struggle to embrace this diversity. I feel the deep need to draw boundaries with my HH work, almost scared to fully embrace it and submerge myself in it. I cannot quite explain why that is though. I love gardening, I love cooking, I love living in a house full of people (although having my own room would probably make me feel billion times better) so why do I feel the need to extend the isolation? Culture shock is the only explanation I can think of. For the first 20 years of my life I had a constant place of warmth and a sense of a “home”. The last 5 years have been a game changer.I find myself able to connect with the homeless folks that visit HH more than ever before. I feel like my past relationship with homelessness really shaped what I value today. I am patiently waiting for the culture shock to subside, for a sense of routine and stability within the home. I long for more frequent open and intimate conversations that don’t leave me feeling judged or socially queer.*shakes fist at culture shock*  I knew this would be a rough transition, but I’m determined to make it through a “better” and more “cultured” person than I was when I arrived. I have the tendency fall in love with everyone I meet(I mean in a platonic way) there are so many wonderful people here I have been so blessed to meet. As a very transparent person who rarely keeps walls up, I find myself facing a seemingly impenetrable social wall, that is a virgin experience for me. I will shake the chains and break the walls. I know I’m good for something and I think I’m starting to find it. Through the haze of culture shock, I will shine brighter than the sun! Until then, I’ll just keep on surviving.

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