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Struggling To Fit In As An Immigrant?

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Today is Canada Day. On this special day we reflect on how we can work within ourselves and within our community to integrate and to create a new identity of a diverse and respectful Canada.

We all have issues that puts pressure on our daily life. For the average Canadian immigrant, one major struggle is how to fit into the Canadian society and how to be accepted, apart from finding the job and creating a home base. We often see how different we look; how differently we speak; how different our values and cultures are etc.

In the midst of our musings and conjectures, we allow our sense of worth or sense of value to get eroded in subtle ways. Before we realize it, we feel less than who we really are with an almost non-existent confidence. Unfortunately, our sense of identity goes a long way to determine how successful we are, here in Canada and how happy we will be as immigrants.

Feeling at Home

“When I discover who I am, I will be free.”

Ralph Ellison in Invisible Man.

Develop the Right Perspective

It is wrong to base your sense of worth on anything physical or on what can be taken from you. Your sense of worth is NOT determined by who you are – which includes your country of birth of origin, skin color, education or lack of it, spoken language(s), parental heritage, etc. Neither is it based on what you’re not. You are not a First Nation Citizen? That’s fine!

Let’s get this context right. Most current Canadians are or were immigrants. Some just happened to land here longer than the rest of us. You are not white-skinned and that isn’t a problem too. Skin color should not be what you judge yourself by. It is just a matter of skin pigmentation. We all are still humans if you consider it, with the same one head, two hands, two legs, brain and everything else with it. Some of us might not have all of it. But we are humans, nonetheless. We all have the ability to think and act. Differently, yes. But all the same, we do pretty much the same things.

Let’s get this context right. Most current Canadians are or were immigrants. Some just happened to land here longer than the rest of us.

Next is to re-discover your sense of identity.

Without much ado, your sense of identity is in God, your creator.

He owns the manufacturer’s manual. There is a purpose for which you were created and that alone should determine your sense of worth. No one has the right to dictate to you who you are. And before your thoughts run riot, this is not about preaching faith. It is about establishing the fact that there is value in every human being.

The One responsible for your creation, created you a masterpiece! That is what you should anchor your sense of identity, dignity and value on. It should not be rooted in your Canadian passport or citizenship but in your design and purpose. Don’t get it twisted, please.

When you don’t wait for someone to affirm who you are, it will no doubt, reflect in your level of confidence, your perception, carriage, relationships and almost everything you do.

The Final Word

There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone having difficulty in pronouncing your name. Have some fun teaching them to pronounce it well. We all have our different background and heritage, so it is alright to experience some levels of difficulty as we get integrated. It’s part of the journey. It shouldn’t leave you embarrassed. Never be ashamed to call your name to the extent of adopting English names for the “feel good effect.” You don’t need to change who you are to be accepted in any society. Don’t try to impress someone because he or she is white. And don’t take insults from them too for the same reason. Don’t rebuild the fragments of colonial hangovers. It’s not worth it. You can actually stand up to whatever is trying to put you down. And please don’t work so hard to change your skin color or the way you speak. Just be you. You are unique and that’s what counts.

Canada is generally very welcoming. The diversity is what makes us uniquely Canadian. Be a part of the celebration of our diversity. Don’t withdraw your flavor. Add your unique flavor to the sauce to make it all the more delicious.

Let’s talk more about our diversity and how we can contribute to make Canada even better than it is.

While we celebrate the country, its people and its environment – let us remind ourselves to be open to everyone, accept our differences and forge an alliance that is stronger than before. We are stronger together.

Join the conversation in our community at https://immigrantlife.ca/community.

This article contains excerpts from Episode 120 of The Immigrant Life Podcast

Written by Yinka Bakare

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