Most of us spend our entire lives figuring out who we are.
Parallel to this, we also seek the confidence to admit to ourselves who we are and share that self with others.
It can be an entire life’s work.
Imagine, then, being reborn smack dab in the middle of that project.
This is what it has been for me to make Aliyah.
Some will say just the opposite.
That making Aliyah was like “coming home.”
That moving to Israel allowed them to finally “find themselves; ” to finally feel a part of something, rather than apart from.
And there are elements of that sentiment I can relate to, but I wouldn’t say this has been my overarching experience until now.
Moving to Israel was a move away from who I am.
I am a communicator.
This is what I do. It’s what I love to do and it’s what I’m good at.
I’m also a relationship builder and an information gatherer.
And those are probably the three hardest things to do and be when you are a new immigrant, especially one in a country in which the main language is not your native tongue.
So why did I move to Israel?
For lots of reasons.
Reasons I stand by and do not regret.
But just as we do after many of the big life decisions we make — getting married, having kids, taking a new job — I ask myself now:
Who am I?
Who am I now?
Am I still me?
Some of my family and friends would insist I managed to be “me” even here in Israel. That I found a way to be the communicator, the relationship builder, and the information gatherer despite the challenges of language and culture.
On some days, I’d agree (and pat myself on the back, thank you very much).
But then there are the unforgiving days…
The days when I run into another parent in the parking lot, and I take that breath
You know that breath?
It’s the one you hardly notice but you take it right before you jump into a casual conversation with a casual friend in the parking lot.
Before you just “shoot the shit.”
You take that breath
I take that breath
but then I remember:
Im not me anymore. Not exactly.
This me thinks, “it’s going to be too, too hard for me to figure out which shit is the appropriate shit to shoot.And it’ll be even harder for me to understand the shit she is shooting back to me in Hebrew.”
And then I take another breath. This time, more of a sigh.
And I ask myself, Is it worth the mild humiliation? Discomfort?
I’m not sure.
So I don’t.
This is never a question I asked myself before.
And, similarly, there are some days…
Days when I know it’s really necessary for me to have a heart-to-heart with the teacher at my kid’s school. And I force myself to have the conversation.
Not because I am “the communicator” or the “information gatherer,” but because it’s what I HAVE to do. It’s on my to-do list. And maybe I have that conversation, but I know it’s the mediocre version of what I could have pulled off in English.
And, oh how I judge myself afterwards.
And question myself.
In a way I never ever did before.
Because I knew who I was.
At least I thought I did…
Now, I’m not so sure.
Is who we are so fragile that POOF a move to a foreign country can change us?
Or do we just have to dig deeper, try harder to be
all we are. In spite of ourselves…