Tomorrow, I complete 6 months writing this blog, and while many would expect to see some numbers and statistics, I choose to leave that for another time. This short journey has allowed me to vocalize many of my thoughts, but I haven’t yet shared my deepest musings that often keep me awake. No offence if you have no interest in reading further 🙂
I have lived by myself for nearly a decade and was separated from every ounce of protection and love of family and close friends in pursuit of a higher education and a prosperous job. The separation was not between 2 cities or states or even a neighboring country, but divided my world across 7 seas, 8,255 miles apart. So precise !
While technology played a huge role in diminishing this gap allowing that one hour a day of warmth through video calls, the other 23 hours of the day were a struggle in every breath. When the uncertainty of whether you will enjoy a good dinner is greater than completing your laborious statistics assignment, you know you are struggling.
From skipping meals, hopping between classes, holding two part time jobs, managing grocery lists, accounting for every penny and trying to cook for an empty stomach, I had lost 10 pounds in the first 4 months of moving abroad. Living with roommates isn’t always as fantastic as is seen on some famous sitcoms after all.
The timing of my arrival in the United States, was let’s just say, not very auspicious. While I was still learning to roll my r’s, the whole world was trying to stand up from the debris of a shattering recession, leaving the careers section of every major company’s website nearly devoid of any new job openings. My several all nighters at the library during my two years of graduate studies were at stake and all I could do was apply to as many positions, paid or unpaid, near or far, but simply keep doing it.
The total count of job applications had reached over 300 before I graduated and while 97% of the companies rejected my application only to avoid sponsoring a work visa, there were others that I couldn’t impress during the interviews. To my luck I was able to score my first internship which only meant another 6 months of insane work to prove my ability as an employee who deserved paid vacation 😛
Hard work certainly pays off, and as I entered the corporate world with the limited 3 week vacation, I was saving heavily to pay off my student loans and build my financial stability before life threw more responsibilities my way. All this was to quickly head back to the country I love, the home I miss and the bonds that were displaced between the hustling.
From the outside, I am the level headed planner, who seems to have his life’s pieces together, and is in no need to stretch a hand for help and support. The truth, like always, often presents itself like an echoing whiplash, cutting through the skin making you bleed from the inside.
Over this decade, I have been scared from the moment I crossed those gates at the airport, looking at the disappearing faces of my parents, insecure about my abilities over every rejected job application, questioned my own hard earned degree after being surrounded by seniors with decades of experience and wondered ever so often if my life had any meaning. I traveled solo, lived by myself, transformed my thinking to proudly admit ‘I can manage it all’, but at what cost ?
The pride with which I admit to this seemingly difficult feat of living alone, hides the cost at which I have acquired it — Innocence. Struggle is not a fantasy, and every struggle, big or small, reflects a harsh reality you sometimes wish you had never experienced. No, it does not mean I wish to live in wonderland, but hey, what if you were given a chance to retain that childish innocence to truly dance like nobody was watching ?
More than anything else, I miss being my innocent self. This does not mean that every single day in the past decade has been a horrible nightmare. Amid the struggle of being a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, I have created some wonderful memories that I could never have experienced had I not taken the leap. I am proud of my decisions to live frugally, to have taken responsibility for myself and my family at an early age while holding my sanity amid several phases of finding myself in a bottomless pit.
I’m certainly not the only one who has experienced this, and like me, there are a thousand other square pegs who have traveled far away from their families to make a life for themselves. But I assume that these feelings would resonate with every individuals personal experience. It has been hard to express this thought, leaving out many elaborate details and incidents to prevent you from a boredom attack, but I hope this post can serve a greater purpose.
I have learned countless skills during this journey of learning and unlearning ( especially cooking 😉 ), and while I certainly miss certain elements of ‘what I don’t have’, I choose to focus on ‘what I have’ and be grateful towards this life. Every struggle, hardship or challenge is an opportunity for growth, and I have most certainly grown past many hurdles along this journey.
I choose to be the Square Peg holding my own ground and individuality, because a variety of shapes is the spice of life 😉
Dedicating this post to every square peg out there, who took the leap amid all fears and insecurities, and emerge victorious !
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of Life
Carpe Diem !
PS : Oh and don’t worry about my weight, because I have gained it all back with some very unhealthy meal choices 🙂
PPS : My first attempt to expressing this earlier was through this poem — The Immigrant