Friday, February 15, 2013


A few weeks ago, one of my...sure, friends, in Nuapapu, asked me what my talent was.

I thought it was a really cute question, but didn't know how to answer. It seems like, in Tonga, if you are a girl, you either need to be a good net ball player ( I'm awful), a good dancer (Tongan dancing...not that it would matter. Any time I have to move my hands and feet in opposite directions at different beats, I am done for), or a good singer (some people like to tell me that's my talent, but they have never heard me sing.) Since nothing Tongan suitable came to mind, I just answered I didn't know what my talent was. My little Tongan friend was shocked and appalled. Of got me thinking...

What is my "talent". What am I good at? And now, I don't have to be the best at it, but, what is something I'm more inclined to than other people?

This is an especially interesting time in my life to be asking this question for a few reasons. The first is....for the last 10 years (or maybe more!) I have set myself apart by my passion and inclination towards people from other cultures. Yes, I would call it a "talent".You all know this, you must. I have invested in books, organizations, education, food :), and people from all over the world as much as possible for the last decade. I've been weird about it. I've bored you with it. I've carried around statistics about aids in Africa and genocide in Burma and I've forced them into every day conversation. Yeah...I was that girl.

And at 26 years old, I am really embarrassed to admit that my identity has been so, no, too tied up into that notion. So on days when I find that I actually hate eating haka and ota and can't stand to sit through one more fake crying fakamalo, I don't really know what to do with myself. Isn't this, all this, supposed to have ME all over it?

And then, to make matters either worse or better, here comes my husband. Who is far better at absolutely every aspect of our current life than I am. He's better at speaking the language, a better teacher, better at eating weird food (which is really important here), better at making friends and finding things to do with them. Better.

And I am so thankful he is because, if he wasn't, who would teach me Tongan, or help me prepare my lesson plans, or eat my bowl of raw fish cause I just can't ingest another morsel of it? But I'm jealous.

Jealous in Tongan literally translates to "bad inside". I think that's awesome. But, that's not the kind of jealous I am.

I have had a life plan since I was 14 years old. And every year that has passed since I was 18 that has not had me where I expected to be, have been years tinged with waiting, expecting. I think it's time that that stops. I think I'm finally ready to accept that we don't suddenly "arrive" at the dream job, or really, anywhere.

I guess I just hope, that by the end of this journey, I'll know what my talent is.


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