May 2, 2014

Is Our Happiness Linked to Our Roots? How to Connect with Home.

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My story is that of a foreign student who relocated to study abroad.

I moved away from home and everything familiar to a new land, in search of better education and opportunities which were stirred up by a lot of ambition.

So, I was what you would call an international student in the United States.

I remember being fifteen after I had finished high school and wanting to leave and pursue a higher education I wanted to test where the leaps of faith would carry me. My simple story of leaving home to study abroad is not so different from several other international students around the world: we leave home to go to a new country and before we realize it, years pass by in the pursuit of all things good and hopeful.

Then, suddenly we realize that we have changed a lot, we are much older than when we first left, and if we see our family perhaps only certain times a year, it’s easy to lose touch and get disconnected.

Disconnected not by abduction of course, but by a feeling and a knowing. If there is no conscious effort being put into creating a space for our home, culture, background and roots, we might not realize how “out of touch” we really are.


I truly was pushed into the awareness of this fact by my recent vacation.

With the feeling of being overwhelmed, suffocated and stuffed in the small town in Oklahoma where I live, it was more than necessary for me to request for two weeks off from my day job.

My craving went beyond just getting a mental break to relieve stress, I was craving connection—to home.

I have spent nearly half of my life away from home, away from my family and my country, away from my roots. Oh, I have good number of relatives around here but in different states, so getting to visit requires making time to take a vacation there.

This time, my vacation was to solely reconnect.

Reconnect with people I love, people I have roots with, to be connected and bonded by blood, by love and by culture in space and time, and best of all—in the present.

Every feeling I craved when I revisited with my family and relatives living in the East Coast was being met. It was such a fun and pleasurable experience. I was beginning to feel reconnected again, until someone whom I had just met (also from my home country of Nigeria) told me I might be “out of touch.” It was just his opinion formed from meeting me.

Ouch! just when I thought I was doing well! I was feeling my culture again, getting the deets on the latest music, and eating every food I could find which was hard to prepare on a regular basis by myself. I knew I was a little bit disconnected from home—isn’t that why I took this vacation? To revisit the closest source of home I could get to? But for someone else I had just met to notice right away that I was out of touch was a real bummer!

My consolation is that I am aware and conscious now; it’s not too late. And the fun part of all this is that I am able to feel alive again.

We all have different reasons why we might feel disconnected.

You don’t need to have been an international student to get the gist of this story. You might be estranged from your loved ones and family through several different circumstances, and the worst thing to do is to ignore the feeling of disconnection.

We hardly connect our health, wellness and well-being to the connection with our roots, our culture and our background, but this is a huge part of living and staying well.

I personally didn’t think of it until my recent intense and life threatening discovery—I say life threatening because I experienced severe nostalgia and it manifested through physical symptoms in my life. There was a lack of energy, frustration, feeling suffocated, and feeling highly disconnected. It’s not like I don’t have people around me where I live who share a similar background, but nothing is the same as being around ties bound by blood or pure love for each other.

These manifestations of my health issues were different from depression though. I wonder if there is a name other than severe nostalgia for what I was experiencing.

I write this for someone out there who is wondering why they are not as productive as they desire, why they are lacking in energy, why they constantly feel frustration, why they are not able to heal quickly or why they might be experiencing physical body pains for no apparent explanation.

All these plus more can be due to the feeling of disconnection. Disconnection not just because of nostalgia, but disconnection from self and from finding musings in life to stay inspired.

What do you feel now and what do you want to feel?

My solution for you is to create space for yourself, go on a vacation, take a day off for yourself, or call people you have genuine pure love for to talk. Do something about it! Take an action—-any action—but don’t just ignore it. We need to consciously create space to feel connected on a deeper level so we can re-ignite our soul, our spark, our spirit!

Here’s what I am feeling:


I am feeling all things African
I am feeling Arty and artsy
I am feeling culture and diversity
I am feeling love and passion
I am feeling light and space
I am feeling bliss
I am feeling gratitude
I am feeling awesome
I am feeling music, African music to be precise
Would you consider this happiness?
Would you consider this a part of well-being?
I am feeling earth and nature
I am feeling grounded
I am feeling above all alive
and it is beautiful
Ahh, these feelings are so beautiful!

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Shawn Leishman/Flickr

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