Redefining belonging is an essential step in adjusting to life in a new land but many migrants completely neglect this process. Here are four reasons why you should redefine it.
First, belonging is a human need regardless of visa or immigration status. We all have the need for belonging. And Belonging is about being yourself, not the same as fitting in. Brene Brown says “The thing is that we are wired to be a part of something bigger than us so deeply, that sometimes we will take fitting as a substitute, but actually fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging because fitting in says, ‘Be like them to be accepted. ‘ Belonging says, ‘This is who I am”. This is particularly relevant when you find yourself in a different country.
Second migration involves loss. More and more people are moving between countries permanently or temporarily. According to United Nations Migration, there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6 percent of the global population. In Australia, in 2021, over 7.6 million migrants were living in Australia, approximately 30% of the population. With such global human mobility, people are moving to places with different cultural settings. Different from what they saw growing up. Different from their social connections. There is a loss of people and places.
Migration will also challenge your sense of belonging. The loss of people and places can cause grief and discomfort. Losing cultural elements may threaten your sense of security. And this challenges one’s sense of identity and belonging.
Lastly, immigration will make you feel like a second-class citizen at times. This manifests through a lack of or limited economic participation when your skills and qualifications are not recognized. All attempts of economic participation are filtered through your in-country experience or visa status. Could be a lack or limited integration in the new society simply because you’re probably still navigating your own experience of culture shock.
But none of these are final, you can change this, you can redefine your sense of belonging so you can feel at home in the new country and learn to love the place you now live.
As Maya Angelou says: “You only are free when you realize you belong to no place– you belong to every place – no place at all. The price is high but the reward is great”