I frequently meet different immigrants from various backgrounds and cultures and hear the complaints of not being easily integrated or accepted in the new society. As a result, they naturally gravitate towards people from their culture or people who look like them. They choose to remain in the realm of comfortability and not want to branch out. They tend to forget the reason they decided to migrate, which should be the motivation and focus on the acceptance of others. While you cannot control how others think or behave, you can always control your reactions and actions. I am not undermining the differences in culture, accent, food, sports, college fraternity, or other areas or the psychological impact of racism. It can be tough to make friends in a new place, especially when you have specific language barriers and do not fully understand the culture. You have to be open-minded and have patience, even when people around you are not immediately showing the same tolerance level. They do not understand your struggle, and they never will, so you have to keep that in the back of your mind and remain positive and focused on your own goal as an immigrant.
Looking backward to where the migrant journey began should help you take charge of re-shaping the formed ideas others have about you or your culture. You cannot expect those who have no clue about your background to understand you better than those they are familiar with. Your decision to migrate was a conscious one; hence, you need to consciously change how you react to issues and the energy you bring to every situation. Working in the corporate society, help me quickly understand that decisions and opinions about you are easily reached during non-formal settings, i.e., the happy hours and team lunches. There are different ways of working worldwide; African work culture is different from Asian work culture, which is different from European work culture. My boss once said, “opinions about your performance are always formed in the hallway. Be present and attend the non-formal settings as they help form how people think about you, which ultimately helps build the self-confidence that helps realize the dream you once had before you migrated.” I learned the act of being the chief organizer of informal functions and events, the happy hours, lunches, and social gatherings where I could share my little experience and background without being judged by the partial assessment of my work output. See you next week!