Becoming Invisible…


I was really worried about how it would be coming back to America… Would I feel out-of-place?  Would I have culture shock..? Would I faint because I finally got to eat real Ice cream with chocolate fudge on it?  Would the people be happy to see me .. Would my family beg me to stay… would the world just be a little strange.  Would people be interested in my travels?  Would they see on my face that I live in another country?

Now that I am on my final days of visiting.. I can sum up what I am feeling pretty much in one word….“Invisible”.

In China, a foreigner is special.  You are something they have never seen before.  Everything you do is crazy and interesting. Your views on life and the pursuit of happiness are so open and exciting.   You are everything they wish they had the confidence to be.  You are like a superstar.   You have people who love you and people who hate you, but they know who you are.  You get followed around rudely but some people will go out of their way to treat you with extra kindness.   Every style you wear and even when you change your hair… they notice.

They are always concerned on whether you have eaten or not..or  if you are feeling well.   They always ask about your day and invite you to share their home.   In China, you are known and recognized, you are one of the elite.

But when I come back home… I see that I am just … invisible.   I am in the grocery store and I smile and people just look away or glance at me with a nod.  No waves of excitement or giggles of joy because you noticed them.   You are passed by without a glance and no one really wants to hear your store when you are sitting in Starbucks.  No one is taking photos of you or asking you about where you are from or what you do.

Invisibility … It is funny because I spent all last year complaining that everyone is so concerned with what I do, how I cook, what I eat and how often I shower…. and I kept saying that I wish people would just leave me alone and stay out of my business.  I wished that people would stop staring and pointing and just let me live my life… but when I came home

I got exactly what I asked for and it is a lonely feeling…. the feeling of being invisible in your own country is strange and unsettling.

Now I am not really sure .. which one is worse..to be seen or .. unseen.

until next time…



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10 thoughts on “Becoming Invisible…

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog, as a person who is of mixed heritage, my dad is from Taiwan, and mom is African,anything that deals with Asian and black relationship is of interest. keep up the good work.

  2. I just read about similar feelings from She in China blog (sheinchina.blogspot.com). Actually this is one of the things that might be difficult for me to admit in the future. I also complain that people don’t leave me alone in China, but what if when I go back to Finland in May I miss it? I didn’t feel this way last summer back home, but it was after only few months life in China. Maybe later on it will change, or not.

    1. sara… I think you havent been in china long enough yet…. I do have a friend that was in china for six months.. and he felt the same way when he came home… he has called me and asked me to come back to the school. I guess we do not realize things until they are gone.

      1. Yeah, year is just a short time. That is one reason why I enjoy reading your blog and blogs from other people that have been living in China longer. I get such a valuable information and hear interesting stories.

        It is really true that some things we only value when we lose them.

  3. John

    Hey Jo
    I feel that way a lots of time even at worked, now day no one care anymore because they just want your moneys, your business. Some store will treat you real well while other stores when you go into the store they want to get rid of you or they don’t trust you because you are Chinese, these stores I will never go back shopping, away I hate to shop because of this, sometime I felt that even my family like my brothers, sister, cousins, uncles, aunt treat me different like I’m not wanted, is kind sad but that how life is now, I learn to stay away from family member and I’m happy to be alone with my friends that I used to worked with.

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