There was a year of my life that I spent in Edinburgh, Scotland. I moved there directly after graduating from university in Poland, in my first reaction to the demands of post-student life. I followed my eagerness to travel, change my environment, meet new people and start an art project together with my friends.
A year later I was in France, in the middle of the Alps, working my ass off in a mountain lodge and enjoying it. It only seemed natural to move somewhere new again, after I found how well this newness tasted in Edinburgh. In France I made new friends, climbed a couple of summits and found out that I could adapt to virtually any kind of life, if I had to (or wanted to).
In other words, I felt pretty much undestroyable. I started to think of myself not just as a tabula rasa I was back at my birth day. I was always a tabula rasa which could, at any point, be cleared with an eraser and filled all over again with new lines, letters, and colours.
I was a vessel containing my experience. Ready for anything. Mortal or immortal, it didn’t matter.
Then I ran out of ideas for where to go next, and I came back to my home country — Poland. A country where I feel anything but undestroyable.
I know that many people migrate from their motherland in search for better job or because of a more securely functioning government. Many want to earn more money than they could, say, in Poland.
The reason why I don’t want to live in my home country is different. It is very personal. And it is even more important to me than the current political climate of the Law and Justice government (Google it, because I can’t pick just one link to direct you to).
After all, I am a Millenial. The quality of my own life matters to me the most. I have been taught that I create my own destiny and that it is my responsibility to make choices that benefit me the most. Additionally, being a bit of a Medium&self-development addict, I came to believe that I should make best decisions possible, put myself in the right environment and improve by 1% every day. This is the new ethic, end of story. Nothing to discuss.
So the thing is that being in Poland seem to be counterproductive to all those ideals that I now have blueprinted in my mind. The social landscape is not highly beneficial. The culture is not growth-oriented. But most of all, the person that I am becoming here is not the person I want to become.
So am I blaming Poland for my own dissatisfaction? That’s not the point.
I am not saying all of this to prove that Poland stinks and Western Europe is a wonderland. Even though this is what you might get initially from my story, this is just the superficial part. It is my perception of things, but I don’t neccessarily believe in it.
This superficial part is to be seen as a manifestation of a much deeper conflict that I intend to talk about.
The conflict stems from the fact that:
a) on one hand I have the experience of living somewhere else than Poland, and I can point with my finger to specific cultural/environmental advantages of living, let’s say, in the UK. I have the experience to say that life is easier, more pleasureable, more growth-encouraging and less stressful there — at least for me. So there is this part of me that would be able to state something like “Poland stinks”.
b) on the other hand, Poland is where I come from, where I have family and where I feel obliged to be, in a sense. This sense of obligation is rooted mostly in the relationship with my parents, to whom I feel I ‘owe’ something — for example being close to them physically and supporting them, like they supported me. The other sources of this obligation (if they exist) are as yet unknown to me.
They say you could be happy anywhere in the world, because it is all in your head anyway. I agree and I disagree at the same time.
I agree that you could be happy anywhere, provided that you didn’t have a choice to go somewhere else. Or at least you didn’t think you had a choice. In a way, this kind of setup is easier to live, because you are stuck in a belief that things cannot change and the only thing that can change is your level of acceptance.
I believe it is much harder for me to be fully happy in Poland, once I know that I have the freedom to go somewhere else — but something stops me from going. After all, I am a Millenial who deeply believes that she is responsible for the quality of her experience. And if she is not exercising this responsibility, she feels she is not living well enough.
She cannot get rid of the thought that she is better than that. By now she should be in the environment of her dreams, somewhere that serves her better than Poland. And this thinking, as you can see, renders her very judgemental of her surroundings.
People don’t look at each other here. Poles barely notice one another in social contexts like shops. Look at this cashier, she didn’t even bother to respond to my ‘hello’. Now she is throwing the receipt on the counter as if she wanted to piss me off. To hell with this country!
People just want to bring me down, rather than encourage. They are stuck in this mentality of having to live life in a certain way. Once someone stands up out from the crown, everybody wants to bring this person back down to the average level. Look how inhibited we are here! No freedom of expression, social conventions wrapping around us and blocking out any drive towards personal freedom.
That’s nothing like UK, where you hear people greeting you from every corner. Everyone seems to wish you well and you can look like whatever the hell you want. As long as you are not trying to offend anyone, you are fully accepted in you individuality. No one asks you ‘why are you wearing this?!’ or telling you that you should get a different job…
Look. The thing is, I really tend to become judgemental when I am in Poland. And sure, I might say that I practice mindfulness, so I can notice those thought patterns and don’t believe in them. Of course I don’t believe in them. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have an effect on me.
It is like with the constantly dropping water that wears away the stone. Even if one drop doesn’t seem to do anything, the continuous stream has the power to transform the rock completely. Same with my neural pathways, being bothered and reshaped inevitably, while my mind produces all those judgemental thoughts. I believe this is what happens.
From this point of view, you see, I really need to leave Poland. For I don’t want to become that person. I am afraid to become the lady from behind the groceries’ store counter. Even if I don’t believe she is the person that I perceive her to be, I am still afraid of becoming my own projection.
And this is the real reason why I don’t want to live in Poland: I am afraid of all the things it is showing me about myself.