Have you had any revelations in life? Perhaps, dreaming about the lottery winner number? How about finding a note from your past predicting one of your paths in life? Can you recall having a strong feeling when you were determined to follow your instincts and turned out to play in your favor? During my life, I have experienced all these episodes and as I see them come to life, they have become clues of good omen.
Many will call them coincidence, but I see them as the perfect alignment of events guiding me to where I am in life. I believe in the cycle of life where we learn, we grow, we adapt, and we change. Following this path is similar to an 8-count dance, it’s not linear. For example, if I lead the same pattern over and over, it’s repetitive and boring. I need to change and add some flavor to the routine, but that might not be enough. I have to adapt to others’ dancing style and continue learning.
One of the longest life cycles I have experienced is getting my US citizenship. A common question from those not very familiar with the immigration process in this country is time. Many of them wonder about how long it may take to become a citizen. It’s different for everyone, but it should take 6 or 7 years. This is only true if we start counting from the moment we fill out the form I-485 for adjustment of status.
Not only was the path to citizenship longer than 7 years, but it represented a rite of passage. It involved separation, liminality, and incorporation.
Leaving my country to venture to a new culture was a very difficult and long process of learning. I remember my early struggles with the language, feeling frustrated because I didn’t know enough or I couldn’t understand others – being shy didn’t help either. The separation process involved full immersion in English; long hours of listening to music and radio; reading books and newspapers; and gaining confidence to speak to others. I had to detach from my old self to find my mission in life.
At this instant, I entered liminality. Did I know where I was? Of course not, I was on the margins of a new stage in life. I had a feeling of “put on the gloves and get hit in the face so I could feel alive”. In fact, I got knocked down several times because transitions don’t come with instructions. I was living from mirage to mirage trying to figure out the best outcome for my future. I gambled all my money playing roulette and the little white ball jumped around teasing me with small gains. For all these reasons, the answer was love so I decided to settle down.
I acquired a new identity. The new me had a plan and a reason to believe that this was the beginning of something big. Although my happily ever after didn’t last as long as I wished, the stage of incorporation gave me a sense of belonging and responsibility.
Singing the National Anthem during the Oath Ceremony few months ago brought many memories. It was a very emotional moment because I recognized that learning, growing, adapting and changing was my mission in life to achieve the American Dream.