I’m Hilda. To me, home is a vague term, defining a physical space, but just as much describing where I feel my heart and spirit belong. When asked about my home, I usually say I was born in Venezuela, but raised in Portugal; I have Angolan roots, and I’m passionate about Asia. But really, I belong here, on earth. I have this feeling that I carry around little parts of every corner of the world. Come on, it’s not just physical borders that define who we are! I could be born in the Middle East, have Greek ancestry and have migrated to Alaska, right? Would it make a difference if we didn’t have countries? We’re just stardust anyway, earthlings, sharing DNA with all beings on this planet.
I am blessed with a diverse family, with different cultures and ways of thinking. At the same time this can make you feel like you don’t belong anywhere; always feeling different; acting differently. It can be hard to process and make it difficult to feel integrated in your local community. What makes us ‘locals’? Our relationships since childhood? Where we grew up? Our ID card? From the moment you decide to see yourself in a different perspective, you can become a local anywhere in this world.
I am not a local in Venezuela. I don’t even remember my birthplace. The only thing that makes me feel Latino is my love for food and dance, though that might also be my African roots. We Latinos are also known for the way we welcome people in our house. And if we can feed five, we can feed ten. It’s an exaggeration, but so often true.
But then leaving that comfort zone, how can you become a local again in a different place? How can you get that feeling of belonging in a place where you did not grow up? From my own experience, I don’t think you need anyone or anything to feel like you belong. You don’t need to share the same culture or assimilate completely. I think it’s sharing the same values that makes you feel part of the community. It’s like a flow of energy. Energy and universal body language, like a smile. Values like compassion, kindness, comprehension, respect, hope and optimism are universal and bring people together no matter where are they from.
We need to remind ourselves that it’s up to us to create the environment we pursue. Embrace diversity and respect, and you’re halfway to feeling like you belong anywhere. Change your energy and you’ll attract what you need. To me, that’s home; where I feel at peace with myself.