Youth is a wonderful time that cushions and wraps you up in a world of naivety. Then you grow up and you become more aware of a few realities. One of these was how other Australians actually view me.
I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life and I have Australian friends who don’t see me as being different to them. But occasionally I have reality checks that make me realise how the average stranger views me differently.
Case in point: Living in America
I lived in the Pacific North West of America for two years. In my first year I organized a BBQ with some Australians living in the region. I was in contact with a few Aussie families who spoke with me at length over the phone and then….they met me.
Utter and bitter disappointment. I’m not the world’s most confident and outward person and yes charm may not be my forte but I don’t have a disability in social skills either. In fact I’m much better at small talk than my husband who will only engage in the act if it means a pay rise. The reaction of the Australians at the BBQ was really quite something. Some of them just walked away and had their own party elsewhere. Some people hung around but mostly , I sensed an overwhelming tone of ‘You’re not Australian, why did you trick us’. I felt really awful because I had prepared footy games, cricket, a lamington eating competition, pies and sausage rolls and so much more and all I got was a rather rude reception from the people I had invited. It was Australians saying to me ‘you don’t look Australian’ and ‘you’re not one of us’.
Now some of you will say that these were just people with no manners and you’re right. Does that mean we’re a nation of bad-mannered, impolite , crass people? Surely not.
Another Case in Point: Meeting Aussie blokes in Canada
I met up with an Australian girlfriend of mine in Canada who introduced me to her aussie friends there. They were a group of young IT professionals, obviously looking for a date. Now I don’t know what my friend told them, but all I got from one of the disappointed faces was ‘ thought you were an Australian’.
Travelling Around Asia:
This happens to me when I travel in South East Asia as well, especially in Singapore. The excited look on an Australian face only to see I’m a ‘wog’ with an Aussie accent. The look of ‘she’s not one of us’ plastered all over their faces. And because I’m partly English and speak with a slight English accent, the Poms (English) don’t take too kindly to me either. I talk more about this in my post ‘To thyself be True’.
I might think I’m Australian, but most of my experiences in Australia and abroad make me believe I’m not. Good thing I’ve skin as thick as cow hide and I believe myself to be a citizen of the world, where there will always be a place for me.