Weltschmerz is one of my favourite words. It literally means “pain from living in the world”. You can find more about it here.
I’m a migrant. When I was 21 I moved from one European country to another. There was no fear or drama driving my decision. I simply wanted to build a life somewhere else and went, and did it.
Looking like a statistical inhabitant of my newly chosen land and already speaking the language, I was lucky (or trained?) enough to only rarely experience xenophobia (it did get worse after Brexit).
At first, my efforts were concentrated on setting up a new life. Once I got settled in, I changed my job for a better one, then that one for another one, and so forth a couple of times. I was comfortable, adopted cats, met new friends.
Although followed the same steps that most of the people my age around me did, I found myself in an interestingly different position. I could not find the feeling of belonging. I was not yet here, but at the same time not there anymore. Both legs in the (not so) new country, and still somehow not truly “in”. Not in the motherland anymore, but still tied to it with invisible strings. Those strings will pull at my emotions every now and then, reminding me that I am a woman that left one place, to live in another, and still will never feel truly at home. Not here, not back there.
Many times I thought of going back. Especially when the strings attached to my heart would keep on pulling. Would it work? Being back, could I just slip into the familiarity of the nation I grew up in? I have my doubts. I am changed. Changed through both, the there and the here. Belonging to neither.
I have two different lives (although politically and societally they are not that different). I feel like I have no roots in my past, and I feel unable to grow new ones here. Rootless. What does that make me?
This is a problem many people in my generation face. Life is good but it’s also lacking. What is missing is not tangible. It’s a feeling of belonging that you can’t fill with things or surface encounters.
It sounds dramatic, I know. But it’s much subtler than drama. Being always in between makes you a bit on the edge, a bit sad, a bit worried, a bit second guessing, but also a lot more open to new experiences, a lot more grateful, and a lot more bold. I’ve slowly become the type of person that wants to understand herself and others more. I’ve allowed myself, and pushed myself to become more vulnerable. I’ve pushed myself to be more open, more caring and more “here” (have you tried mindfulness yet?).
There is nothing that I’ve found can help with the constant feeling of fitting nowhere fully. Maybe the answer is to move into one of the big, multicultural cities? Would living in one of the world’s melting pots, amongst people with similar experiences help reduce the Weltschmerz that keeps on following this migrant?
I’m not sure if there’s even a good answer to those questions.
NB. Published after midnight, after fruitless efforts to fall asleep. The sort of night where your thoughts prohibit you from getting any rest.