“The sun at home warms better than the sun elsewhere.”
– Albanian proverb
As I sit in my bed at almost midnight, my throat stings, my eyes swollen from tears, and my mind a sea of chaos, my only sense of clarity must be put into words. It’s strange how for some, putting pain into words, seems pointless. For me, it’s the only way I can make sense of the pain and push past it. Words are my medicine.
I don’t think many people reading this have ever questioned where their home is, have you? I have.
I never really took much notice to it until a couple years ago when I moved back to Estonia, where I was born, to study at University. While I was terrified of going so far away from where I grew up, I never once thought I would be at war with myself about where I belong in this world.
Estonia has given me so much and taking the massive leap to move back over by myself was and will always be one of my proudest moments. Estonia opened my eyes to countless things that I was so oblivious to when I was living in the US. It also helped me found out so much about myself and where I came from. Yet, how is it that I still feel so foreign in my own birth country?
Growing up in the US, I always felt different. Try having a name that EVERY teacher mispronounces on the first day of school. I got so immune to it. I always felt like the “foreign” girl. The girl with the strange name. Estonia? Where is that? In Africa? I always got blank faces when I would try to explain that I was born in a small country along the Baltic Sea. It wasn’t until I said that it was close to Russia, did peoples’ expressions turn on with realization. This caused me to almost completely disassociate myself from my background. I wanted nothing to do with it to be completely honest. I was an American. I wanted to be like everybody else. However, despite fitting in and growing up with he culture, I still never felt like the others.
After many life events, I somehow ended up changing my life. My mom brought up the idea of going to Estonia for school and the interest suddenly sparked. This feeling inside me kept saying, “Yes, this is it.” I knew my problems wouldn’t be cured and that my anxiety wouldn’t go away, but I was hoping it would help me figure out who I am and where I belong.
It was so strange how I never actually felt like a true American, but as soon as I stepped onto Estonian soil, I felt like the most American person alive. I was scared. I was terrified. I felt foreign in one place and now I come back to my birthplace and I feel even more out of place? How can that be? I’ve lived there two years now and the confusion grows more each day.
You know, sometimes I joke and say that living in two places is amazing, but a lot of the time it kills me. My whole family lives in the US. The only family I have. My mom, my dad, and my brother. They are all I have. The longer I’ve been away, the more I miss. Except for a handful, my friends have become so distant. They slowly slipped out of my fingers. My brother is already starting his second year in high school and I wasn’t here to experience ANY of it. This current trip that I’m on, when I arrived home, I almost couldn’t recognize him. He was such a young man. Am I being a bad sister by not being there? Does he not feel like he has a sister sometimes? Sadly, he confirmed that last one.
That hurts so unbearably much. I lost it tonight. I couldn’t contain the pain. I feel like I’m torn between two places. Isn’t home where your family is? I know I’m just studying, but studying 5,000 miles away is almost ridiculous. I love the education I’m getting, the people I meet, the places I go, and the fact that I reconnected with my heritage, but being thrown back and forth across the ocean and back so many times is absolutely exhausting mentally and emotionally.
As I was sitting on my bed, shaking with unease as if I can feel my body being torn in two directions, it all just hit me like it never hit me before. It’s like I’m more confused about myself now than I was before I left home. I want my family and dearest friends with me, by my side, and getting to see them so sparingly…hurts so much. I know I should be grateful that I do get to see them, and I am, but this just feels like too much.
Is KC home, where my family is, where I grew up, the place that made me who I am or is Estonia where I belong, where my eyes first saw the world?
I hate missing so much. I hate missing my parents. I hate missing my brother grow up. I hate missing what my friends do and growing apart after years of friendship. I hate that reconnecting with my heritage only seemed to confuse me more. I hate that Estonia opened my eyes to so much goodness that I want my family and friends to have, but they don’t have the means to just drop everything and move with me. I hate that I feel so alone. I hate having so many ling goodbyes and such short hellos. I hate it.
I know I try really hard to stay positive and let out positive vibrations to myself, others, and the world, but sometimes I just can’t.
Being at war with yourself is painful.
Where do I belong?
Where can I have all the people I love be with me?
Who am I?
Sometimes there are too many questions…
If you’re reading this and you also feel torn from the inside, I understand your pain.
I’m not going to say something cheesy about how things always get better because I’m not in the mood for that right now. Sometimes we aren’t and that is okay.
This is what I am feeling right now and I am not ashamed to say it. I am hurting. I am scared. I am confused.
And that..is absolutely okay.