How to be an Immigrant
In theory, a system is something that should make us feel comfortable, supported and allow us to blossom. Unfortunately, in practice, it fails repeatedly. Growing up in a Polish household with a single mum and a younger brother, there’s been a lot of expectations of me. Filling in for my mum when it came to my brother as well as taking care of her has never been an easy task. I imagined moving to London from a poor city in Poland as a dream; as if it was going to be Hollywood and I was Marylin Monroe. Of course, that was an absolutely ridiculous thought and life brought me straight back to Earth as soon as I realised that all I could say in English was “hello” and “toilet”. So as you can probably imagine, this didn’t get me very far. I have worked hard all my life and had to grow up fast. I had my first job when I was thirteen, cleaning offices in Liverpool Street during late nights after school. Not the greatest, but every penny counted. I was always taught that if I work hard and study hard, I will be successful and powerful — just because that’s what the system told us.
There are always two sides to a coin. I always appreciated education and hard work and believed that if I keep going I will finally be rewarded. However, the time has shown me that this coin was only one-sided, because I’ve been working so hard, and I watched my mum work incredibly hard too yet nothing has improved. I have never been able to follow any of my passions, I have never been on holiday, I have never been to any of the courses that I have always wanted to go to, to gain new skills within the fashion industry. I have never been able to learn how to play an instrument, drive a car, ride a horse, eat lobster, learn Spanish. I have never been able to treat my mum to something she’s wanted for a long time. I haven’t been able to afford my own medical treatments. I have never been able to buy art, books, school supplies, buy my brother his favourite game that all his friends have but he doesn’t. Purely because I have had to suppress who I am and who I want to be to survive.