What I learned last year – Suzana Apelbaum

By christinewatson / / In 2012 I learned that it’s ok to come from another planet. I moved to New York City from Brazil in 2010. It was tough. Every single part of my new routine was so different that I couldn’t help but feel like an alien. My creative leadership, which took me to the top in Brazil, didn’t work well here. My uncontrollable urge to hug people whenever I felt some good energy was seen as a funny thing in New York and many times earned me the label of “sticky”. Working in a second language, I saw my capacity to articulate and express ideas drop to the level of a teenager’s. In an attempt to maintain my balance, I started yoga classes. I was shocked when the teacher began the class by asking if “there was anyone who would prefer not be touched” while she corrected our postures. And three people actually raised their hands. It was clear: I’m from another planet. I don’t belong here. In order to feel comfortable in New York I would have to change dramatically. But I didn’t want to. But would I succeed and be happy if I didn’t change? I thought of just packing up and going back to my sweet and warm Brazil. But how could I? How could I leave behind the most touching skyline I’ve ever seen? And ignore the next dance performance at the BAM? And what about the Summer Festivals? And Williamsburg? And, and, and… Somehow I made it to 2012. Slowly things started to change. Or maybe I was the one who started to change. I was able to relax in moments I felt insecure. I laughed at comments that had previously offended me. I was creating award-winning work without even knowing it. I stopped being frustrated when I didn’t get the jokes at happy hours. They’re not funny anyway. It is a fact: I’m definitely from another planet. And that’s ok. Actually, being an alien expands your personal and professional horizons in a way that no other experience does. At the end of the day, it’s all about how you deal with difficulties and how you face the unknown. It is how you turn challenges into rich and sometimes even fun learning experiences. As time goes by, you inevitably start to adjust to your new reality, figure things out and become smarter. It’s not about changing who you are. It’s about growing. And no matter what happens to you during this process, you’ll still be loved and appreciated. The people who really matter will get your essence. That’s enough. And it’s wonderful. Inspired by Todd Parr.