As an immigrant, I know what it is like to leave your home behind and come to a strange and new land. It is disorienting to say the least. It is heartbreaking to leave your family and home behind. Then again, it is a unique experience. Thousands if not millions of people make that radical change for better opportunities, or they flee because they are threatened, and their lives are in danger. Being uprooted is not an easy feeling to live with.
Imagine moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, where you find yourself surrounded by people who mostly don’t look or think like you. They certainly don’t speak the way you do, they don’t eat what you eat and so many more differences you could point out. It is a terrifying thing. The adjustment can take years, sometimes decades.
Yet, if you take the time and watch closely, you will see similarities. The new country that adopted you, the country that gave you a haven to live in and if you are lucky, a place to prosper, that same country is inhabited by people that want the same thing as you do. One must admit that you will hear often the opposite, you will hear about differences, religious, racial, cultural, financial and many more. Those differences will be amplified but they aren’t a threat, they are more like bee sting, not a crocodile bite, yet they will sound like the apocalypse. Your adoptive country is filled with people who want to live freely, work, live a decent life, have families, worship the god of their choice, wear whatever they feel like wearing, they want to go to school, get an education, learn a trade so they can earn a living and be productive, they want to feel secure and respected, they want to be treated with dignity and understanding, they want to make sure their rights are upheld. They don’t want anything different from what any of us want.
Immigrants have a hard time absorbing their new country’s customs and culture, which is normal. Yet, I believe they are sometimes reluctant to do it fully. This is not a generalization as I don’t have any data to support my claim. It is just a personal observation. They are afraid they could lose who they are, who they were back home, they are afraid they might lose their identity and that is a scary thought, that I totally get. Moreover, those who adapt best or faster, are sometimes derided for being sell outs, which is stupid if you ask me. Personally I find it funny to be accused of forgetting who someone was. There is nothing that could ever erase who you were. Yes, we evolve but at different paces and some customs are hard or even impossible to understand, let alone adopt.
I have heard immigrants like myself, talk about how they feel. Sometimes, they believe they lost their ways, their culture of origin, who they were, their language, their way of thinking, etc. We all want and need to hang on to who we were, how we used to think, talk and behave. Sometimes, there is a sense of guilt that flows in our hearts and minds for having changed, for not being the same. Can we also talk about the apprehension of how one will be perceived when they go back home? The trip back home is such a strange experience, as we try to blend in, forcefully so, to be honest. But we cannot help but stand out. We stand out the way a drop of blood stands out on a white lab coat. We stand out, not because we are better. Hell no! We just don’t fit into our old environment anymore, it is that simple. It isn’t that we are better, hell no! We stand out and we are easy to spot. You know how? It is the way we think, dress, talk, act and react that gives us away in a nanosecond. People will tell you that you have changed and sometimes we take offense, and we want to prove them wrong. Some of us, will feel a certain shame because we have changed. There is no reason to feel any shame whatsoever. You have changed. It is a simple and undeniable fact. It is not a brag, nor is it an accusation, just an honest observation that happens to be true.
I am not denying the fact that some cannot wait to go back home and prove they have changed and that they are better than others. We all have met those fucking assholes who think they are superior to others because they can afford to buy better clothes or expensive perfumes, as if that was an accomplishment! We all know idiots who just go home and try to speak to people in a foreign language to show off, as if people would envy them. Most people will look at them in disbelief of their own vanity but, what can you do? Idiots and assholes are out there, roaming the streets. May all the Gods bless them because they are as harmless as a cough is to a bull charging at you in a corrida.
What about the guilt associated to immigration, in some rare cases? The guilt that resides in someone’s heart because they were able to flee a country ravaged by war, when others, friends and family couldn’t? That is a feeling often experienced. Why me? Why not him or her? The questions are there, but you will never find an adequate answer. You will always speculate about the answers. Please do not feel guilty. Life is that way. There is no hidden reason as to why you got out and others didn’t. It happens. You were lucky, unfortunately others weren’t. Feeling guilty won’t help you in any way. It isn’t about being heartless or inconsiderate. It’s about accepting life and moving on. Guilt will not change what already happened.
This is a subject I could write about for pages and pages. To whoever is reading this, and they are an immigrant, be strong. Make the most of being to a new home, I hope the new home fits you. Whether you care to admit it or not, you might find yourself liking your adoptive country more than your previous home. That can happen too. There is no shame in that either.
I do feel this text was all over the place, with almost no structure. I do apologize but I hope you got my few points.
Just one man’s opinion.
Now, smile and go on with your day.