I never knew I was so French (Parisian?) (but France = Paris) (or not?) (Paris and the French desert) (to be discussed) until I left Paris for good and forever at the age of 26. The day I decided to leave my home town (and my country) (for a number of reasons that would not make sure to share here), I knew it would be forever; the minute I left, I felt good.
So far, nothing to declare. The world has been good to me. It is full of resources and treasures called people, landscapes and cultures. They bring me more than I ever hoped for, I feel spoiled.
Even though I have been and I am still being shaped and transformed by the world every single day in the last 10 years, I still feel I am very French, and I now fully and shamelessly embrace it.
Here are some aspects of my personality that reveal my Frenchitude:
1 * My charming French accent sticks to me in any language I speak. I’ve found out it’s sexy and cute, so I leave it as it is for now – I have other priorities than improving my accents. I believe Indonesian is the only foreign language I speak with no French accent.
2 * Everywhere I travel, I conclude that my home country has it ALL and is the most beautiful on earth, and that its core issue is its inhabitants.
3 * Even if I have a rebel mind, I am very obedient, I respect hierarchy and grey hair and always show interest towards wise [wo]men. I know very well how to fit in a box, abide by the rules, shut my mouth, do what I’m told to do – even if I don’t feel like it.
4 * I still do not know very well how to accept and process compliments. I did not get any in all my school years, got hardly any from my beloved parents, none from my grand-parents, and therefore never expected any from anyone else. It’s only when I turned 27 and started raising my first two daughters in Amsterdam that I found out about positive education… It’s only when I became an adult at the paroxysm of suffering at the age of 32 that I started understanding that some people were being appreciative or supportive towards me. Work-in-progress…
5 * I never rate myself positively and have no clue how to congratulate myself for my achievements. I am still under the effects of the “can do better” education. Being “perfect” was the norm ruling our world when we were kids, teenagers and young adults. The grade associated to being really good was therefore a laconic: “can do better”. But how? That’s the mystery that was never revealed to us!! Just take the what in your face with a polite smile, and figure out the how, dear…
6 * To me, good manners are not stories told in books about French kids, they are a wisdom transferable from one generation to another, because they are part of our culture. So, yes, anywhere I am planted, I consciously raise my children the French way in that respect. They can spend 1 hour at a table behaving like adults, 2 hours at church in silence without moving, let others go first without being frustrated, follow long guided tours in museums, look at others eat junk food without craving for it or being jealous, do as much as I do to maintain the house spick and span etc… This is no fairy tale – French mothers are at ease when it comes to parenting with a structure.
7 * I am highly sensitive to refinement, beauty and art, be it in apartments, shops, museums. I cannot live in a place deprived from artistic beauty; I cannot buy from a place I find ugly. I visit several museums every single week, they make me vibrate. I am not bragging about any kind of required knowledge here, I am talking about the happiness, energy and comfort brought by the search of beauty.
8 * My ideal of feminine beauty is skinny and unreal. It’s sad, but I can’t get rid of this: I associate beauty to a perfect skin stuck on appearing bones. I’m working on it; I know there is an alternative to this latent violence.
9 * I believe that fashion and aesthetics are not women’s attributes, but a totally relevant to men. To me, looking “naturally” stylish, classy and chic is what enables [wo]men to age gracefully and elegantly.
10 * I love writing because even if it can be considered useless to some extent, I am a philosopher and writing enables me to express my essence. And I do admire thinkers and writers.
I hope that this honest caricature of my French/Parisian features do not frighten you. What I realized in the last ten years is that in order to change and grow in the direction that is right to me as an citizen of the world, embracing my roots gives me strength and balance. So, for now, I decided to stick to my French passport even if I must admit there are attractive options out there…