Discovering your real country
I remember my past life. I used to be Brazilian, a journalist, a friend of many, a daughter of a loving couple, a sister. I used to be a master of language. I used to know my way around the biggest city in Latin America. I used to express myself so easily that I would play with words, finding the best arrangements so text would flow full of life and meaning. I used to be proud of myself and my ability to connect with people and opportunities. I used to belong. But this feels like long time ago, even though it has only been three years.
I remember my first time going to a grocery store. This trivial event became a very demanding task. I didn’t recognize some of the products and I had no perception of the brands. I lacked all the subliminal training that everybody attains growing up and watching their family, friends and television. I had to grow on my own and make up for 34 years of no experiences here. I had to consciously find and absorb knowledge that usually is transferred in more effective ways. Tough first year!
Of course, I still struggle and there is not time for all the things I want to learn and live through. But now I don’t feel so overwhelmed and I can have pleasure with the best gift I received from America and all the immigration experience: myself. It is only stepping outside your own soil that you can really understand your roots. And it is comparing one way of living with another that you can find out what in your life comes from you and what can be called automatic responses. And I tell you, I act in accordance to my background more than I would like to admit.
Such realization requires a lot of self-questioning. It is hard, scary and continuous work. The task can be compared to a trip without maps, guides or certainty of success. Sometimes I don’t recognize this strange woman that I am. It is an old travel companion that just recently I noticed. I investigate this world and I as it was the first time. I am redefining my tastes and priorities. Good thing is that new life begins from the answers you find.
For example, I know I don’t need to be a journalist like I once was, but I crave to connect, and writing is my creative outlet. So I have to write. Writing is also painful when you try to squeeze yourself in a tiny vocabulary. I have no longer the career, I am not a citizen, and there is no family around. Now I get lost in a small city and ask around about ways to do. I am still trying to think in English instead of processing things in Portuguese and then translate. I am always looking for groups to belong to. I have been doing this for three years. And I couldn’t feel stronger and happier.
Now I recognize that I am more questions than answers and being open to the unknown is frightening, but, truly, there is no other way to live. I know for a fact that I am not defined by a job, situation or other person’s view. And I no longer try to bend the English language at my will. I prefer to learn how to dance with so many amazing words to be discovered. I have fun and a long way to go, but I already found my tribe. I am a part of the Earth and the human race and there are no frontiers to that. I am no longer an alien. I belong.
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Negros Oriental, Philippines