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Depression in Emigration: What Beliefs on the American Dream



Alice Ksenevich, a blogger from Belarus who moved to New York a few years ago and wrote a book about life in the United States, will inevitably encounter depression in America inevitably. The first year, as a rule, passes in a state of euphoria. Every day, the city throws up gifts: impressions, acquaintances, politeness of salesmen and policemen, increased attention of men, more sunny days per year ...

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There is an incentive to learn, find a job, build social connections, quotes Even the stress of a different quality: it's like the first game in Ultimate Frisbee. You were counting on throwing away a little plate for your own pleasure, and then the struggle for the drive, the legwork, the crazy pace, the hard stuff: I didn’t understand the rules, and it’s scary that they will get into the head with a plate, and you are already on the front line, learn, adapt!

It is in the first year that many manage to make a significant leap forward - everyone clearly understands why they left, have not yet missed their relatives and friends, America appears as a country full of opportunities, one has only to grab one of them and make every effort.

After a year and a half, a period of doubt and melancholy begins. The former social status has been lost, it is often not possible to apply professional skills in the United States, and one has to be content with low-skilled, poorly paid jobs. You spin like a squirrel in a wheel, but still you can hardly make ends meet. There is no time for going to a bar or a nightclub - renting an apartment eats up from 50% to 70% of earnings.

At this stage, it is easy to get discouraged and, having compared the previous standard of living with the current one, ask the questions: “What am I doing here ?!”, “Who needs me here?”, “At home, my peers already have apartments bought on credit and minors children, and I live with three rooms, the devil knows where and work hard from morning till night ... "

Americans mistake sad people for weaklings. It does not matter what the energy boost is provided by - an energy drink, a Prozac pill or healthy optimism - you cannot show your bad mood, you cannot burden others with your problems. They say about sad people: “They do not have mental problems, they have problems with money”. You want sympathy and lively human participation, but instead you are advised to change jobs.

Easy to say - change. Most newcomers to New York work for 10-12 dollars per hour, while the average salary here (we are talking about the middle class) is 25-30 dollars per hour. Earning two and a half times less, and you feel more appropriate. Without an American education to jump above this bar is difficult.

While there is youth and health, you can work in restaurants, clothing stores, construction sites, a lifeguard in the pool ... But what will happen after 30-35? Who will sit with the child while you will earn your daily bread?

Education in America is a luxury. The chances of getting financial aid for your studies are slim if you already have a university degree. If you pay for tuition out of your own pocket, then you have to give 10-15 thousand dollars a year to study in a not very prestigious educational institution. You will need vaccination certificates, translations certified by American offices, you will have to pass entrance exams, including mathematics, and all this is money, money, money ...

Do not forget about the pressing monthly expenses: a metro pass - $ 112, medical insurance - $ 400, rent for a room in a not-so-prestigious area of ​​the city - $ 1000, meals - $ 20 a day. What remains? Are you willing to work two jobs to pay for your college tuition? Are you ready to study during the day, work at night, sleep three hours a day, and so - four years?

This is why an entire generation of young and intelligent people in the United States are losing themselves. They are sucked in by work in bars and restaurants. They go to the movies, buy clothes, can afford to rent an apartment with a separate bedroom, but they don't strive for anything. Going to study means losing a stable income in exchange for dim prospects. Over the years, people are “blown away” and less and less believe in themselves. And it is only on this faith that the American dream rests.

On the subject: The story of the runaway bride: why I returned from exile

Very accurately conveyed these feelings in a letter my friend for new life circumstances. We flew to America one month apart. I am in New York, she is in a small town in New Jersey: “Less than two years have passed since my departure, and no one cares anymore. This reinforces my feeling of “disappearing”, as if I am no longer at home, and at the same time I am still no one here either. I'm not here yet either. I was kind of stuck between the layers of time and space. Superimposed on the midlife crisis, this feeling disturbs me very intrusively. In general, now I spend a lot of time analyzing my past and planning the future @.

“I miss my mom terribly. Every time I see her on Skype, I notice how old she is, after every conversation I roar. The very thought that I left her there alone just kills me. I miss my jewelry business. In Minsk, I already had a reputation, turnover, clients, prospects. And here, no matter how I fight, I can’t get it off the ground ”.

“In this half-dead, sparsely seasoned with sparsely populated townships, nobody wants anything like that. There are hundreds of thousands of worthy masters online in the United States, and to stand out from them, you need to invest in the promotion of money that is not there. "

Depression rolls up to the throat with a bitter lump of unfulfilled hopes and anxiety for tomorrow. In New York, you cannot relax and work half-heartedly - otherwise your place will very quickly be taken by someone else, more agile, motivated and flexible. New York is not a comfort zone, but a zone of constant, fierce competition. The city charges you with new impressions, does not let you get bored, but in return requires complete dedication and enormous stress resistance.

At some moments it begins to seem that life in the homeland was not so bad. Negative moments come to naught, memory selectively slips the sweetest pieces that are easy to choke.

On the subject: Our emigration: what Russian people can not get used abroad

For me, the most effective way to overcome depression was running. Fortunately, the weather here allows you to run in the fresh air almost all year round. Many people choose alcohol, which is understandable, since compared to everything else, wine in New York is not so expensive - $ 7-15 per bottle, which is equivalent to the cost of three liters of milk. In the cafe from 4 pm to 7 pm you can drink almost for free - these are the so-called "happy hours". So it turns out that many New Yorkers live according to the scheme: on the way to work - coffee, at work - "Red bull", after work - wine or beer.

“All this is what I am. Life is stressful everywhere. In America, it's also stressful to fit into a new system, to become a full-fledged member of society, to justify difficult life choices, to overcome the fear of returning home as a loser. "

By and large, no one is obliged to prove anything to anyone. And if you fail to realize yourself here, you can always return to the usual system of coordinates - with a unique experience, free English and new connections.

When I feel sad, when I want to give up everything and come back, I always compare what I lose in the end, which is not and will never be in Belarus. The main thing from this list: freedom, the rule of law and economic stability. I like that, despite the huge US foreign debt, a cup of coffee here costs the same as a year ago. That the work of doctors is paid with dignity. What in the shops I do not see the heartbreaking scenes when old women do not have enough money to pay at the checkout. American old women themselves are able to engage in charity.

I like novelty and variety, and these people who came to New York from all over the Earth in order to feel the fullness of life, live here their youth, meet love or just play their best song on the subway.

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