Leaving Home: Navigating The Need To Belong And The Need To Feel Different

For Global Cosmopolitans, confronting contradictions or paradoxical needs is a normal part of living across cultures. Last week, while in Latin America, I heard people describing the tension of wanting to maintain a feeling of belonging to their childhood friends and family, while knowing that their lives away from home had changed them in significant ways.

A woman from Brazil described the challenge of moving from Argentina to Mexico City. She described how hard it was to leave home. She felt misunderstood then and, as she contemplates a further move, she wonders how her increasing difference will impact on her important childhood relationships. In further discussions, people passionately expressed their concerns about what will they lose if they travel and become increasingly different from their family and childhood friends?

One person characterized the conflict this way:

“How can I maintain my roots, my connections to the people that I grew up with, and still become the person that I want to be? I have already become different because of my global experience. Some of the changes have become significant, so much so that I feel like my sense of self, my identity, has changed. I know that I am different in ways that I do not even understand. I am excited and pleased that I am changing and want to continue a global lifestyle that facilitates change. Yet, I feel very rooted to my childhood. I know where I come from and what grounds me. Will I lose this connection? Will they still care about me, and yes, will I still care about them?”


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