When You Are Abroad For the First Time!
Have you ever been in a place where you cannot relate to anything or anyone? Not just your language, your mannerisms, your belief, but even your color makes you feel uncomfortable. The discomfort is not inflicted by any external sources; it is something you feel due to your pre-conceived notions or inherent insecurities that you have been nurturing for long. Yet, what you feel is so chilling that you feel as cold as you’d feel in your grave.
I felt the same when I first traveled abroad. I had never been anywhere before that, in fact, I had not been out of my own city, and one fine day I decided to cross continents to travel to London. I found myself crossing busy Central London roads on an October afternoon.
Busy roads, chaos, or crowd wasn’t something that could scare me; I mean, after all, I am from Delhi. Who’d know better about crammed streets, dirty avenues and disarray better than a Delhite? People didn’t look similar to what I was used to seeing (obviously), roads were cleaner, people had driving etiquettes, strangers held the door for you and sometimes you’d see someone giving you a friendly smile, something that we cool Delhites can’t bother doing for anyone.
I’d keep standing next to the Zebra Crossing but wouldn’t cross the roads, God knows why. In fact, I was scared of crossing the roads if it wasn’t the Zebra Crossing, not because I was scared of the drivers on the road but I was worried that I will be fined for crossing. It was my own fear that made me feel worried and lost at the same time.
I even remember standing in the queue at the tube station to buy tickets and repeatedly forming the sentence in my mind that I was to say to the person at the ticket counter. He was not going to think any less of me if I was not fluent in his language but my own complexities forced me to be the perfect version of me.
When you are in a place that you know nothing about, people don’t speak your language and you cannot have a JUGAD as we call it, you feel petrified to even breathe and that was what I was feeling back then.
But being a person of color is nothing to be worried about. We worry because of our own weak and baseless notions that make us feel less, small and inadequate. Best is to take each moment as it comes and just be. The world is not going to come crashing down if you pronounce a word wrong or if you are not proficient in a language that is not your native language.
Yes, nothing can take away the anxiety or nervousness you feel when you are in a new place but you cannot let it win, you cannot let it overpower you cuz if you do, all you will ever be is an outsider who was at a place for some time. Channelize all your energies to feel one with wherever you are.
The last image on this blog is the perfect example of what you can build for yourself when you learn to conquer your fears.