Day #50: 30 Days to 30 – The Safety Net
Day #9: My status as an ex-pat has become a big part of who I am. Even though living in Canada is a recent decision made only five years ago, being in a foreign country really changed the way that I see the world and how my friends and family impact my life. One thing that every immigrant underestimates is the role of the people that they know when they leave their home countries behind. I thought I had decided to not return to Brazil for a number of reasons. They were all reasonable and, at the time, the pros were more valuable than the cons. They still are. However, what we don’t know is that when we leave, we give up a number of small privileges that often make our lives easier. By moving away from friends and family, we give up our safety net.
Most of us have never thought about what having a safety net really means, but we all figure that out during our first days in a new country. I went through a lot of “figuring out” in the last five years, however the most important thing that I learned was that my success is the consequence of my local friends’ support, and that I’d be lost if they weren’t around to pick me up when I fall. Five years was enough time to test empirically the impact that bad company can have on my life. In Brazil, they have a popular expression that says Tell me about the company you keep and I’ll tell you who you really are. Once again, popular folklore hit the nail on the head!
The good news is that in five years, I’ve really perfected my friend radar and have become better at welcoming the right people into my life. Maturing also taught me to be more flexible with the size of my safety net and expand it beyond geographic barriers and countries. I still have a couple of great friends in Vancouver, Rio and London who are an integral part of my life in Toronto, people who know me enough to kick my butt when necessary. If I was able to give only one piece of advice to my younger self, I’d probably tell her to surround herself with people who push her buttons and acknowledge her creativity. People who are dreamers and want more out of their lives, who are critical and love a good discussion. My safety net is about pushing me beyond my limits and hopefully positively impacting the life of the people who support me along the way.