"Maybe what I found ordinary is long gone": The 10-year journey to discover a lost sense of identity

10 years ago, my mom and I had to start a new life in the US, a place so unfamiliar and distant from my home in Colombia. In these years I have unsuccessfully worked towards finding a way to call the United States home, allowing a strong feeling to grow—a feeling of cultural and personal disconnection stemming from my constant search for this new home. Leaving me questioning, can I ever feel like I really belong here?

I began to wonder how people starting a new life away from home were consciously or unconsciously able to ‘flip a switch’ and assimilate to the new environment. I never found that switch.

I knew I had to go back, to rediscover my country. It was very important to reconnect memories and feelings. Three years ago, I started traveling back to Colombia, seeking a sense of belonging within my homeland, but a lot had changed. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago.

Colombia has become a new country, very different from the place I once knew. Armed conflict has started transitioning to peace, family members have died, my childhood friends have grown up and grown apart, and areas of the country that were inaccessible before are opening up. Maybe what I found ordinary is long gone.

Still, a strange familiarity accompanied me all along this journey—a sense of recognition that Colombia is where I come from, but that time and space can shift the definition of ‘belonging.’ In some instances the fabric of these dimensions (time and space) had me feeling like an ‘outsider’ within my own community. Understanding all this was part of the journey.

“Olvido pa’ Recordar” (Forget to Remember) is a search to find myself in a country I once called home. The project is a very personal 10-year journey of understanding who I am, where I come from, and where I am now. Forgetting to remember is an idea I’ve linked to accepting, forgetting, and letting go.

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