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One of my best friends painted these shoes for me. They are busy and ridiculous, and they fit my personality well.

I attract attention whenever I wear these shoes. In the US, this is not a problem. Society accepts people with different styles, different careers, different interests. I can wear crazy costumes and dance crazy dances. I do things that other people are embarrassed to do. I love pushing the limits and watching the reactions.

I haven’t been able to do this anywhere in Africa. I attract enough attention simply because I am white, and I don’t want to push it by wearing these painted shoes or anything else out of the ordinary. Instead, I must focus more on fitting in. It’s not my culture, and not my place to say what dress or actions are socially acceptable.

When abroad, I miss the ridiculousness of the US, and I miss the freedom to express myself fully. This often makes me think critically about how much of my life I want to spend in Africa. I feel good about living abroad right now, but I will ultimately need to settle in a culture that accepts and embraces my painted shoes.