Just before ChristmasI received a few racial comments, which were, just for the fun of it, mixed with some misogynistic ones.
Now you'd think I would be used to it by now, but, since most people don't really know where to place the accent, they never know where to send me back to, and since when pressed most people assume we're from France I think they figure - what's insulting about sending someone back to France?
(I mean the croissants alone are worth the trip)
So they don't.
But just as we were preparing to go on our holiday I got a few belittling comments that knocked the air out of me.
Mostly because they were from people I know.
It made me feel small.
And it made me feel like I don't belong.
As an immigrant there is always this tiny nagging feeling that no matter how much time you've lived in the country, how much of the culture and slang and customs you know, you don't really belong.
There is always a story where you don't know the person people are talking about, or a joke you don't get, or a reference to a TV show from the 70s everyone has seen but you.
Which is mostly fine, and these moments do get few and far between the more time you spend somewhere, but at the same time it gets harder to ignore or brush aside when they do happen.
Especially if you are also ill and cracked a tooth and can now only drink soup.
But then, since all I could do was feel sorry for myself, Hidai sent me to rest and play Candy Crush, so I watched Your Christmas or Mine 2 on Netflix, which is not as good as the first one, but had this one moment that proved, as usual, that an addiction to silly movies pays off.
Because it doesn't matter if you feel like you don't belong because of gender, social status, heritage, skin colour, or where you were born.
It was a very good reminder that "You are the only person in this life who gets to decide where you belong. Wherever you get yourself in life, that's where you belong, and if you are the exception in the room, it is because you are exceptional."
Which is why I was so excited (and I know you're supposed to say that, but this one is actually real) when I got the invitation from Women4Women & Southside Partnership to deliver next week's Job Seeking Skills Workshop for Women.
Where, besides going over CVs and LinkedIns and interview tips, I get to talk about looking for a job as a woman and as an immigrant, about getting through the culture barriers and the importance of looking after yourself in the process, and most of all I get to tell some amazing women from all over the world that it is not about the space, or place people give you, it is about the one you decide you deserve.