When you arrive in a new country, whether it’s voluntarily or as a refugee, the move and change in environment may impact how you move forward in life. The internal dialogue and reflection of how and why your life has changed can influence your emotional, physical, and spiritual views on how you progress. While there is a natural need to fit into society, culture, and your local environment, the transition from your past to present can take you on an emotional rollercoaster. The highs can be exciting, offering a sense of adventure and joy. Simultaneously, the lows can trigger pain buried deep and lead to nostalgia.
Recognize that you are not alone on this journey
Settling in a new country, making a new environment your home, and coping with the need to belong and regenerate the feeling of old connectedness can become burdensome and cloud your judgment and decisions. These are genuine and realistic emotions and feelings that can flood your mind. Every immigrant has experienced similar emotions. Know that you are not alone on this journey; you have support, guidance, and opportunities to build your new life. You are supported by many individuals, including the Canadian government, who guide you and connect you with others who have had a similar journey as yours.
Check in with your thoughts and feelings and develop a coping mechanism
New experiences may trigger new emotions and feelings. There may be sporadic agitations of frustration, anxiety, depression, and a sense of loss of control in your life. In some cases, it may even affect you physically or impact your thoughts, actions, and words. Just as some people who try to learn a new language, comprehending the language between your dreams, desires, aspirations and the available opportunities in Canada is also essential.
When you’re faced with such difficult moments, your default behaviour and pattern for resolving the situation will likely be influenced by either the skills you developed in your home country, or by your culture, and biases. While many of these behaviours may be valid and transferable to your new environment, some might be ingrained in beliefs that don’t necessarily have the same depth of importance in Canada. In such a situation, I suggest you analyze the root of the belief and ask yourself whether it’s relevant in the current environment; and if so, how and why.
Drastic and quick changes in your identity and cultural beliefs can leave you unsettled and lost between two worlds. Therefore, it’s important to transition slowly, taking it one step at a time, while building a strong foundation for your future life. Retaining your culture as a key aspect of your identity can be helpful in building this foundation.
Be open to new experiences, meet people and expand your network
Embrace the sense of adventure, new opportunities and aspirations, and try something new. The openness to new experiences can often present a fresh perspective on your new life. It can introduce you to new people locally and even present professional opportunities. Observe, listen and learn from accomplished individuals; find the inspiration to fuel your passion and seek the motivation to pursue your aspirations. Lean on these individuals when you need support and talk to them about how they deal with stress. Adapt their response to your own situation and put it into practice.
Learn from your past, adapt to the present
Trust that each moment unfolds as it should at the right time and place – this can be an empowering perspective that offers an opportunity to introspect and think about how you would like to shape your life. Don’t ignore lessons from your past; learn from it as you construct your new identity and decide who you want to become. Use the skills, tools, and experiences you have from your home country and adapt them to the Canadian context.
Think of your new life in Canada as rebirth and use this opportunity to create an inspiring future for yourself. Chase your desires and dreams. Acknowledge your old wounds so they can be healed. Keep an open mind and embrace your new life so you can move ahead with excitement, motivation, passion, and drive!