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It's as common for us to underestimate ourselves as we breathe. At least I know I have done it more often in a single busy day at work than I had coffee. And let me tell you, on a busy day I would end up having around six to eight cups of coffee. Yeah! I don't know how my organs are still functioning either. But what I have learned from this short life is that it's amazing how we don't even understand how often we OVERESTIMATE ourselves.
I have often overestimated myself knowingly, and the dice has almost always rolled in my favor. Even when the stakes were high, I have been the flag barer of my strength, always had a blinding amber beacon for confidence and self worth shining over my head that encouraged me to move forward and tackle every hurdle head on. Now I know it sounds very narcissistic, but that was how I felt! I had a bucket full of self love and self worth that made me believe that I could touch the sky if I wanted to. I felt that I was the proverbial BOSSBITCH!
Figuring I was good enough to tackle the whole world on my own, I decided to make the Big Jump. I decided not only to do over out of my parents' house (yeah! that's a thing where I come from; kids live in the same house with their parent, and it's bloody wonderful, and probably the best thing in the world!) but to move to a new country. Not just a move to a new country, but to move to a country across the Atlantic. Flight takes almost a day if the universe is kind, but mostly these are 35–40hr long flight including transits so short that you can't even get out to have view of the city.
I landed in Canada in May of 2019 in the midst of a bone-chilling rain. Did I mention I come from a tiny country in Asia called Bangladesh? I guess not. The last day I spent on Bangladesh the temperature was in the highs of 40 °C. For those who measure in Fahrenheit, it's 104°. The humidity in Dhaka coupled with the heat was causing heat strokes left and right on the roads to those who weren't lucky enough to travel by a car. People lucky enough were cutting work to sit on a heavily air conditioned room with a ceiling fan running like it was the last day it had to fulfill it's life's purpose, sipping on the coldest of lemonades, having to wipe off sweat only once in a while, avoiding stepping out of the room because the heat was brutal enough to strike instantly even inside closed quarters.
I remember doing just that and feeling woozy from the heat every time I set foot out of my room. And the tragic part was that I was having to pack in such dire conditions. Me, my husband, my mom, my dad, we were all taking turns packing, because it was simply impossible for one person to go on too long without taking a break. The rest of the day after that is a muddled memory of tears, snot, heartbreak, sadness disguised as self-loathing for leaving everything I loved behind. Several tears, a hurried transit, and a delayed flight later I found myself in a raining Toronto with a temperature of 5 °C. It felt like the city was weeping too to find me standing there. For the first time in my life I felt like my blood was congealing, and the tears were making icy tracks on my cheeks, but touch confirmed that the tears were still liquid and nothing had left ditches on my cheeks.
There’s very little I remember from my first to days in the country due to extreme jet lag as I hadn’t slept a blink in the anxious last two days. This was the opportunity I always wanted! I waited my whole life to be on my own, to prove to the world that I could do anything and everything, and shine like a star that everyone looked up to. But now I had shut myself in my room thinking of the amazing job, the established career, the loving family, and all that I held dear behind. Suddenly I was back in the box of anxiety that had shut me in it tight just a year before while I was waiting for my paperwork to come through. Though that hadn’t broken my self-confidence, THIS, this was eating my confidence up whole.
I had never been away without my parent and brother anywhere, it had always been family vacations for me. But for the first time I didn’t have my father to nag to about not liking the food and go to a different place, or my mother to nag to about how tired I was and wanted a day to just relax, or my brother to back up my claims of tiredness to skip the next day of touring. Through all my grief, anxiety, and panic of being in a new place oceans away from home, I had forgotten that I had my husband with me who might be going through the same things, yet was trying his best to comfort me; I had forgotten that I was living with my uncle and aunt who were constantly checking up on me, taking me out to roam around for sightseeing, meeting new people they knew, shopping, and doing all the things I loved and enjoyed; I had forgotten that I had my cousins around who I loved to bits and pieces to keep me company and make me smile all the time. Most importantly I had forgotten that life was being easier on me than most, because more than half the people that leave their home to go somewhere new don’t even get to have a roof they can call their own during the early days. THAT IS WHAT PANIC DID TO ME! It made me ungrateful, and the worst, it made me lose faith in myself; it made me think I wouldn’t be able to do anything here and would be a big disappointment.
However, days did go by while everyone around kept doing whatever they can to get me to come out of that dreadful box. I was doing laundry “one fine morning," and all this suddenly HIT ME! I was being ungrateful and sort of a jerk. But slowly I had stopped being that way. I was crying much less, in fact I had stopped crying, and was laughing most of the time. I was talking to my parents twice every day (I have done that from day one since I landed and haven’t stopped AND don’t want to either), and I wasn’t crying the moment I saw their faces. I wasn’t crying while I went off to sleep, because I kept thinking what I failure I was that I had been in the country for a month, and still hadn’t secured a job, and hadn’t started applying to study programs. And all of those feelings of failure stopped rushing in when, sitting on a chair waiting for the laundry to be done, suddenly I realized this was something I was doing on my own! Not just this, but I was doing everything I needed to do on my own. I wasn’t relying on anyone to do my biddings, neither was I incapable of doing the things that I usually wouldn’t have to do in my own when I was back in Dhaka.
That is when I realized what a culture shock really was. It was not just the shock of being in a place where you didn’t know left from right, but it was the shock of suddenly leaving your home, your city, where you knew the streets with your eyes closed. I realized that I knew the streets here like the back of my hands also, and Google Maps now had two destinations called HOME. I had embraced the city whether I had realized it or not, and the multicultural city had made me its own the moment I had landed.
It’s not always a necessity to have an action plan. It’s absolutely not necessary to measure self-worth with the numbers and the size of success and failure we have. It’s when we start measuring our worth with the size and amount of failures and successes we have, that's when everything goes awry. It’s the person we are, the courage and strength we have that makes those failures pointless, and those successes meaningful accomplishments. No matter where you are, you will always find people who love and care for you every step of the way. Make THEM count! Make them feel wanted and loved as well. Because when you are down, they WILL pull you out of the ditch. And don’t worry if things aren’t happening the way you wanted them to. They will happen when they have to. And if they don’t, that means there’s something better on its way. So whatever time you have, take it and enjoy. RELAX! And let the BOSSBITCH in you relax too, even she needs a break. And when she’s up and running, nothing can stop you from being the BOSS-ASS-BITCH that you have always known you are. So go ahead, and keep overestimating yourself, because you only feel like you can do it because YOU CAN! And all of a sudden all that looked like perils of being the person that you are will become the propeller that moved you towards who you want to be.