We might look like the majority and privileged but for some Irish feeling connected to the United States is hard. Deirdre O'Shea discusses her experiences assimilating in the US.
I am a white, native English speaking, Irish woman and have been living in the United States for the past eight years. Aside from my now subdued accent, I appear like the majority and that makes me privileged here. But I am different; my internal landscape does not quite mirror others.
I traverse life here through a different lens. It took me a while to pinpoint exactly what felt off and not quite right; those often appropriate but slightly awkward interactions, misunderstandings and my need to explain myself that bit more. This troubled me, prompting a lot of self-reflection on the challenges that I’ve encountered along the way.
Challenges that anyone trying to forge a life in another country can relate to I’m sure; the challenge of trying to find your place in a new world and feel like you too belong there, the challenge of connecting with people who don’t share the same sociocultural history as you.
You have to learn to relate to people and meet them at another level. We all have a basic need to feel connected, so if this is hard to do, and it will be inevitably, everything else will seem hard.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness are not uncommon to me but the corollary of this is that it’s pushed me to keep trying to find those connections, to look past the superficial and find what’s common to all of us; the need to be loved, to be accepted, to be understood.
You have to learn to be okay sometimes by putting way more effort into these connections than others because you will need them more. You have to learn to be okay with people seeing almost this desperation to be accepted and turning away from you anyway. You have to learn to be okay standing at someone’s doorstep asking to be let in and having the door shut on you because all they see is a stranger. But when you are let in and trusted and seen for who you are and not some unfathomable difference, it’s magical. It is so fulfilling and beautiful and those are true authentic connections and this you will feel deep in your bones.
Know that although you will have to work harder to reveal who you are to others because you can no longer rely on the implicit trust that comes from growing up in a shared sociocultural environment, you will undoubtedly, transform.
But first, you will have some work to do. This will take time. You will have dig down deep and know your truest desires and motivation for taking this path and staying the course so you can unflinchingly answer the question with pride “So what brought you to the United States?”
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