Tell it like it is

Charlotte Kaufman - Ecuador

July 22, 2013

(Before you laugh at the title of this blog, a reference to Aaron Neville’s one-hit wonder, let me get a few things off my chest…)

I was 15 when I made the 20 hour trip alone to Mumbai to join my mother, who worked for an international nonprofit called Acumen Fund. While walking around with her a few days later, we happened upon an art market. As we admired the finely detailed ink drawings, one in particular caught my eye. It portrayed a three-story house with a man reclining in a chair on the bottom floor, a fancy blue car on the floor above him and a dog sitting on the roof. When I asked the artist what it meant, he said that it was his perception of America.

The piece now lies on the wall opposite my bed so I often find myself looking at it before falling asleep. When I reflect on the drawing I wonder, are American values upside down? Is it wrong to care for a dog or have a fancy car? Are we overly consumerist, focused on acquiring things at the expense of family? I also wonder, how would the artist portray his own society and how would he react to my portrayal of his? I have lived overseas and attended international schools but the drawing still surprised and challenged me. It reinforced the notion that others see me through a different lens and that it may be necessary to feel vulnerable at times, in order to learn and grow.

This belief in the importance of multiple perspectives, a simple concept really, has driven me since my early teenage years. In fact, I used to consider Chimamanda Adichie’s theory about “The Dangers of a Single Story” (see TED TALK), as my personal motto. The problem is, I have come to a point in my life where I can no longer settle on any perspective. The feeling of freedom I have worked so hard to achieve through open-mindedness has been replaced by a feeling of constant limitation. I feel limited because I have begun to question many of things I do in everyday life. Often times, I find myself unable to complete simple actions such as writing this very blog post. What do I say? How do I want to be perceived? The questions continue…

I am sure I am no exception to the average teenager, or individual for that matter. I cannot, however, help but think that there must be an easier way to live one’s life. All I need, is a focus. I think a bridge year will help with that. Instead of worrying about how to portray myself via a blog. I have decided to tell it like it is. Short and simple, I will be sharing my stories. Thanks to all who support me and thanks for listening to me. I am truly excited for this fresh start in Ecuador, where I hope to find equilibrium.

That’s all for now!

Charlotte Kaufman


Charlotte Kaufman