“Whenever you can tell a story and don’t feel any pain, you will know you are healed”
I always thought that the United States would be the best place in the world for me to live, so I decided that I was going to move here when was I was 12 years old. I put everything I had into moving away from Brazil and to America, this is when I learned English. I mocked a fake accent, just in case, even though I understand its a stupid thing to do, we hear a lot about how Americans treat other nationalities that don’t look or sound like them. I didn’t care about the cost, any means necessary in order to move here, I forced my way in.
When the 45th president was elected, I felt a cold chill run through my body. I didn’t want the other candidate to win either, but when he won, I got desperate. Most likely because it felt like the people who voted for him blindly followed him, like a loyal army, that follows and chants whatever he says, without thinking of what is really being said. Of course, it’s not generalized and it is not all of them, but some of those people who are the countryside folks, that think that immigrants should be here legally, or shouldn’t be here at all, are the ones who cause us the most hurt. Guess who voted for the 45th president? Read on.
When I applied for my green card in 2015, some family members of my husband’s side denied to help us immediately. They talked about liability, meaning, they didn’t want to be responsible for me financially, in case of a divorce. They called an immigration lawyer to make sure they could help me and whatever the lawyer said, they must have twisted his words and didn’t want to help anyway. That hurt me profoundly. During that time, I was working as a waitress to help their son through Chiropractic College. Again, not to generalize, the other brother who also voted 45, helped me immediately, didn’t even look at the paper, just trusted me and for that, I’m forever thankful.
I cried for months and the feeling of not belonging only grew. As they questioned my motives, I questioned my entire life journey, I thought about leaving, nothing was making sense anymore. I love my husband, but how can his family think I just wanted to marry him for a document? What happened to be super nice to me, and when we decided to get married, people that I saw as my family, changed overnight? I felt stupid and betrayed. Being an immigrant is already really hard, but when you ditched by people you thought was going to take care of you, there is no way back. It takes time to heal, but I’m starting to think that the bullet wound will be in my arm forever.
Little by little, I picked up the broken glass on the ground. Starting to reconstruct my confidence was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Add that to the fact, I was still working as a waitress and being seen as a failure from people from my country. After a few sessions with the therapist linked to my husband’s school, I was able to see myself as an individual again. The most important thing he told me was “Nobody is responsible for your own happiness, only you, Joana, is responsible to make yourself happy”. I went home, thinking about what would make me really happy, the kind of happiness that radiates from you, that makes your friends want to be around and invite you to hang out because you are fun to be with. That Saturday, I decided I wanted to become a writer and share my story. On Monday I contacted Full Sail University and started the application process.
“For the first time in forever”, to quote Anna, I was being treated as an equal. I was not being made fun of because of my accent, I was not being overlooked because I was born and raised somewhere else. I was being graded the same, the days for submitting my work were the same. It felt great to be part of a discussion group and not being judged by the way I sounded. School proved to me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. I am a capable human being, I only have a different nationality. I watch the same tv, listen to the same music, pay bills, do everything the same. Where I was born and raised has nothing to do with my ability to work and live here. In June of 2018, I decided to launch Live out Loud Too. The “too” was because apparently, live out loud already existed somewhere, but it made sense after all.
Live Out Loud Too started from the idea that the ugly duckling, the “outsiders” and the misfits, need to live a full life too. We cannot choose a certain group of people to be happy, successful, able to buy houses, cars, travel, and have a great life. They tend to look at us like we don’t deserve it. We are and we are going to be loud too. We are gonna laugh and post pictures of us being silly, we are gonna post our success and our failures, we are gonna comment on music and popular tv shows. Eat-in nice restaurants and post pictures with hashtag lunch. We can do it all and learn that most of us can do it in two languages. Resilience is in the name.
Live Out Loud Too is my brand and the entire locomotive behind my purpose. I want to tell others that its ok to feel bad, it’s ok to feel like you don’t belong here. But don’t let this feeling linger for much longer, because you are here now, so yes, belong the hell out of it. I’m not gonna let any president, whoever it is, to tell me where I should be, or how I should live my life.
So, please, live your life out loud too. If you need a friend, I will be here writing about my ups and downs and how I’m trying to make life enjoyable, when every single its been thrown at me.
Stay Safe. Be healthy.