I don’t know if when I was a child I ever got lost. As a youngster and then as an adult (phew, so close to saying: elder), fortunately, I never went through any situation where I didn’t know where I was or where I had to go and panicked. At least, not that kind of physical/geographical disorientation.
However, one of the biggest challenges as an immigrant, in my opinion, is to overcome the feeling of being lost. It’s powerful, it’s overwhelming. It’s depressing and it can paralyze you. Also, it can make you act like nothing is wrong but inside you know there’s a whole lot of stuff that needs to be put away or that you need to get rid of. For ever.
In trying to remember my last few years, there’s a scene that comes to my mind: me sitting on a bench in the courtyard of the university where I had been given a scholarship in Romania. Here I talked to two people: my mother and a friend.
I was tired of not understanding anything around me and honestly I really wanted not to give up but to turn my back on everything that was confusing me. I had had a taste of the new system I was inserted in and I had resolved in my mind that I was not able to blend into their society. Or that I did not want to.
As an immigrant, some of the situations that were new to me: plastic banknotes, subscriptions to public transportation, pushing a button to open the doors of public transportation, taximeters, paying for plastic bags in the supermarket, counting the payback in my native language, falling on my ass when walking on ice in winter, having to dry my hair in winter before going out… sigh…
…some are funny and some others aren’t. Failed efforts to speak their language. Nobody translating hours of conversation of people around you speaking in their language. Rude people everywhere: streets, transportation, public institutions. Not being able to tell people how horrible they are, in their own language. Discrimination. Don’t call me sensitive.
“You can come home anytime, I’m waiting for you. But I don’t want you to give up and regret it later”, said mom. “If God took care of you until now, He will now and in the future”, said my friend. I did not give up. And God has taken care of me until now.
This feeling of being lost, I think it will continue to happen many times. I know I can only hold on to faith and to the love of those around me. Three years later, today, I am still in this land I thought was not my place and I keep thinking it’s not my place. However, my resolution is that I not only know that I don’t want to blend in with it, but that I don’t have to.
*Note: me in the picture is my successful Romanian language skills version. Ordering a coffee, piece of cake… or not.