Business school never prepared me for the international relations stereotypes. When I first moved to Bali and was on my own often the surrounding locals gossiped that I was a prostitute looking for a rich husband. Sounds completely silly given my level of education and professional experience, but I began to lose sense of myself. At the time I overcame their ignorance by focusing on the task at hand, which was to survive and learn the way of life in Bali. Now almost 3-years later I come to another case where my character is challenged because I am an unmarried semi-attractive woman.
When my father came to visit a year ago, I had to announce to the locals that this is my father. They presumed that he was my boyfriend or husband. It was the same when my uncle came to visit. I had to explain that he was my uncle. Even so, they did not believe me and assumed that I had other relations. It would make me so angry at times because I stand so firmly by my character. In some ways it upsets me, but mainly I know I must learn. This is a part of the process of understanding the Indonesian way of life. I need to see and feel the reality.
These challenges are not obvious nor are the solutions to tackling them. In another way no person or country is free of judgment. We must learn deep down who we are and stay rooted in the truth of our character. The world does not need to be sold for we are not a product in a window. We are real people trying best to find our way through time. I must just accept and move on. I cannot change their views and if by trying I become a part of the web. I would rather untangle and work hard to stay grounded. Not to let the bullies scare me away from a life I believe in.