The Worst Thing About Being Far From Home is the Helplessness
The Struggle to Fit Into The New Country is Easy to Note — Pain Caused by the Old? Not So Much.
“This must be what dread tastes like “— note to self.
You know that moment when you catch yourself about to say something you’ve said so many times that you’ve now become aware that the person listening to you is sick of hearing it?
I’ve felt that a lot since I started talking to new people whether at work or in my new neighborhood about moving to America. I’ve reached a point where that wonder of being new, and the joy of sharing my experience feels not only bland but unnecessary and pointless.
I should have something better to say, I tell myself. How long will you be the immigrant?
Yet, I find myself today after 4 years of living in America, unsheathing the onion of this experience. I may have bored myself to death with my story of moving here. But the consequences of that move still echo. Even worse now, the true consequences of not being present in Cameroon expose me to the true limits of my impact on others.
“Impact” here is not even close to what you think.
It’s not about changing lives or doing something worth celebrating or writing a book about my experience.
It’s a more base quality: the ability to say something and have people consider it enough to listen and act in accordance. It’s closer to what we often consider “respect” in African homes. Even when that is closer to “fear”.
For 4 years, I’ve maintained conversations with the people I love. Some have traveled to other countries, including the US. A majority have not.
What has impact got to do with the pointlessness of my immigrant story? And why revive now?
Well, anyone who has been in this position would understand the utter helplessness that comes…