I’ve never considered myself a brave person or a strong one. Not in a unique, special way. I just think of myself as a person, an individual, with its own path in life. They say what you experience in life makes you who you are. I do not deny that, but I do deeply believe that most of what makes you who you are, are the choices, the decisions you’ve made.
When people say I am brave for leaving my country and move to somewhere else, I experience surprise and that weird, strange feeling that “I’ve never really thought about that“.
Let’s start by clarifying what it feels to leave your country.
First there’s the anxiety. After all, you’re going to face the unknown and all the uncertainty that comes with it. You feel a nostalgia that comes with the idea that you are leaving something behind; something that you will never get back. Deep down you know that is the biggest price of the decision you’ve just taken, and yet you go for it. There is fear, but you won’t admit it. After all, this was your choice and you need to deal with the consequences of it alone.
You find yourself in a place where they don’t speak your language. Where every thought you want to express by the act of speaking has its own dose of effort, no matter how well you speak the language. You still do it, with an accent that denounces your foreign nature. You find yourself surrounded by people, but you’re still so alone, and the awareness of that, its own realization, makes you breathless, your stomach sinks inside you as if you were falling off a cliff. You look around you, and everything seems like a dream, a bit unreal, because deep down you’ll always know that’s not home. Everything that is not familiar, seems always disconnected somehow, no matter how much time has gone. Then you fear you might never belong. Not in this place, not nowhere.
And then, that thing you knew you would lost with this decision becomes a reality. Suddenly you’ve lost touch with your roots. Even when you go home, it doesn’t really feel like home anymore. People that once you thought you knew so well, look different, even changed. It’s like you’ve forgotten that while you were away living your rootless life, these people continued living theirs, growing their own roots, a life where you are less part every day that goes by.
And yet you ask yourself if you would change anything, if you could. If you’d stop packing, if you hadn’t took the plane. If you had stayed, fighting for something different, probably easier. Maybe if you had tried and give again a chance to your own country. You could be home, with what’s close to you. Family, friends. The sea breeze that for me is a synonym of home. Speaking the language that you used to talk and write so well.
Is this bravery? I don’t know. I’ve taken decisions in my life that could be considered as bold, even brave. I did dive in the unknown, commit myself to not look back, to swipe all the obstacles of my way. To trust my instincts, to not be influenced by the ones that charged me with negativity. Times are hard and sometimes I doubt myself. To be more precise I doubt myself all the time. And that makes everything even harder. Because when you doubt yourself, when you think that you’ll fail, you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, it’s even harder to step further.
And the answer would be, no, never. I wouldn’t had change a thing even if I could. ‘Cause I’d rather live a bold rootless life, than an aimless one. I’ve always aimed for what I have to run to catch, to what I have to work really hard to get. I want to see and know the most I can see in this life. I wasn’t happy where I was in life before. So, yes, I took a risk and here I am. For now.
So I ask again: is this bravery?
For me brave is anyone who has the guts to pursue whatever their hearts desire in life. Some paths might seem easier than what they really are. The real bravery is in the act of choosing them, in the act of assuming them, and never spend too much time looking back. The real bravery is not in not be afraid, but yes in be and get over it.