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Lost in Translation: Juggling Languages and Identity
Confessions of a Multilingual Mind, Navigating Shyness, and the Art of Communication

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

Listening to the recent podcast 'On Purpose with Jay Shetty,' where he discussed the seven powerful habits to avoid loneliness, feel connected, and build an authentic community, I couldn't help but reflect on my own journey.


Have you ever experienced that peculiar sense of loneliness despite being surrounded by loved ones? It's a paradox I struggled with for years. This feeling persisted long before my journey to London, where I found myself surrounded by dear faces, yet haunted by a profound sense of emptiness.


London, with its bustling streets and foreign landscapes, altered the nature of this loneliness. Strangely, in a place where I was truly alone, without family or friends nearby, that feeling transformed. It no longer held the same weight. Instead, it became an opportunity, a gift even. I discovered the beauty of solitude. It allowed me to peel back the layers, to explore the depths of my own being. Now, I prioritise these moments of aloneness, appreciating my own company and the chance to truly get to know myself.


Having lived in London for nearly five years now, I've reached a point where my thoughts blend seamlessly between English and Portuguese. It can be a delightful but confusing experience, blurring the lines of language and identity. I'm no longer a tourist or a traveller, but I'm also not becoming a native. I'm in the in-between, bridging my old life with my new one. It's a feeling of belonging without belonging, a discomfort in the unknown.


This conscious situation has led me to appear reserved or even distant in unfamiliar environments. It's a facade, not coldness, that conceals my shyness and my determination to speak the language well wherever I am.


Human connections profoundly impact my soul. Meaningful conversations and interactions inspire me. However, as I immersed myself in a new language and culture, I found my confidence disappearing. There are moments when I search for the right word, grasping for it like a lifeline, only to find that it exists in one language but not the other. It's a reminder that I standby two identities, that I am both an outsider and an insider simultaneously.


In these moments of linguistic limbo, I often remember about my roots, about the warmth of my mother tongue, Portuguese, and the comforting embrace of my hometown. But then, I look around at the vibrant spirit of London, the diverse faces and stories that enrich my daily life, and I realise that I am also part of this world now. I've learned to embrace the power of adaptation, of blending my identity into its multicultural essence.


However, the path to fluency is not without its trials. The fear of mispronunciation, the dread of cultural misunderstandings, they take cover in the shadows, ready to pounce. It's a battle I face daily, one that has made me extremely aware of the value of communication.

In this journey of language and identity, I've come to understand that the true beauty lies not in perfection but in the authenticity of expression. Language is a bridge, a connection point between souls. It's the shared laughter over a simple joke, the exchange of stories that transcend borders, and the unspoken understanding between fellow language learners.


As I continue navigating the linguistic labyrinth of my life, I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone. There are countless others who, like me, grapple with the intricacies of communication and identity. Our stories, though unique, share a common thread of resilience and transformation. We are the bridge builders, the cultural ambassadors, and the champions of connection.

So, if you ever find yourself in the midst of your own linguistic odyssey, remember that it's not about being a native or a tourist, but about embracing the journey itself. Embrace the beauty of solitude, the gift of authenticity, and the power of language to transcend boundaries. In this world of constant change, you are not lost in translation; you are a vibrant, multilingual spirit, and your story is a testament to the beauty of human connection.

You can find more on my social media - @ccarrico.interiors

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