1) Martin Luther King’s Dream Had One Little Hitch: Tolerance Isn’t All That It’s Cracked Up to Be (This post is quite long so get yourself something to drink before you read it)
Take It Away Gal
Mwangi put me on the spot and asked me to do a guest post about being an incarnate immigrant Kenyan. Being quite the emotional gal (there goes all the male readers lol), I’ve chosen to write a little about the emotional stuff, because I believe that knowing of the possibility of experiencing these emotions, saves one a lot of energy…
The way I see it, when one expects to experience something, one doesn’t usually expend energy fighting the experience…but deals with the situation coming from a place of apparent preparedness…because one expected it. Makes for smoother sailing, me thinks
I know I didn’t expect to experience the loneliness.
Nothing/ Nobody had prepared me for being in a new place with no friends. NOTHING! And that’s just the easy part. The kind of loneliness I experienced in my first few years abroad was unnerving, terrifying, tiring.
I was not at all prepared for moving away from people who’ve known me since I was in nappies. People who I’d gone to kindergarten with and friends I’d met on the first day of primary school and then was learning how to be a teenage adult with. People I had a “secret” language and personal history with. People I could tell funny stories about, even though everyone’s heard them a trillion times, and they could and would do the same with me. All this vanished with one “little” plane ride that I didn’t even notice, because I slept all the way to Heathrow. Vupti! And it was gone! Just like that. And I had no idea.
I remember the first time I met a long time friend and she laughingly said “OMG gal, that is So you”, to something inane I had done, I almost fell to knees crying, thinking “Oh my God, IT IS ME!, and she should know, she’s known me since I was 6!” Moving to the UK/DK (United Kingdom and Denmark) meant that I was surrounded by lots of lovely friendly people who knew naught/zero/zilch about me, and that somehow made/makes for loneliness.
I never underestimate the power of shared history anymore
We recognize and celebrate ourselves in it…its part of what shapes who we are…and one of the easiest ways to make friends…i.e. creating a shared history.
The move from the comfort of a Kenya whose systems; political, cultural and social, I knew and were a natural part of me, knocked me off my saddle sideways and left me reeling. The funniest part about it, is that I expected to fit right in pronto, first in the UK (not too bad but still) and then quite erroneously, in Denmark. I now know that, that little expectation can make a move to a new place a very horrendous one.
I now know to expect to NOT fit in, in a way that’s different from experiencing new things in Kenya, I expect to work at fitting in, I expect to stick out like a sore thumb and feel like one, if only for a while, but sometimes always, and many years down the road, I have accepted this as part of my life as an immigrant. I know to expect to feel the loneliness, in one form or another.It’s ok, it doesn’t bite…that much
from a search for sanity
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