By Majid Kazmi, Globe and Mail|
Reader discretion advised!
By Majid Kazmi, Globe and Mail|
Reader discretion advised!
I am a new resident of Canada. A month after completing my two years here, a friend shared an old article online that immediately grasped my attention. It was titled “Don’t Make the Mistake of Migrating to Canada, it’s a Fool’s Paradise.” This is just one of many similar articles, threads and online debates (like this reader discussion in reference to Canadian Immigrant’s article “Why some immigrants leave Canada”) that warn immigrants against Canada.
I’m not sure if Canada is a fool’s paradise, but it surely is a graveyard for the conceited narcissists who think they deserve the same kingly bounties they were bestowed upon in their past country of residence for no good reason. Still, I can only agree with the author that Canada is indeed not the place for you. But I intend to do more than that; I will attempt to enumerate the various reasons why Canada is not the place for you.
Before I start, let me make it clear that I do not mean to make light of the multitude of problems that the Canadian society grapples with, much like any other society in the world. In fact, despite being a newcomer, I make it a point to be an active member of the movements that aspire to make Canada a better place for its residents.
I read and reread the article a dozen times just to make sure I wasn’t missing any finer points made in the seemingly nonsensical piece. And trust me when I say this — it came across as equally nonsensical, if not more, every time I read it. But reading it a number of times did help me get a better perspective, not of the topic discussed but of the likes of people who make that assertion. The last few times I read it, I read between the lines, pausing every so often in an attempt to understand the writer’s real personal disposition and her internal impetus to be so negative. The answer to that question was obvious in her choice of words. The disclaimer at the end of the article was particularly funny, “due to privacy concerns, the name of the author is changed.” You see, the beauty of being positive is you don’t have to hide your true identity.
It is a new reality and you don’t get it
Who in his sane mind would compare life in disparate regions of the world using the same measures? Hello! You are in a new country. Building your expectations based on your past experience, accomplishments and bestowals is a recipe for disaster when immigrating to any new country. Just like the CEO of a smalltime firm would be happy to accept a senior management role in a multi-billion dollar global enterprise in a first-world economy, a rational immigrant is satisfied with finding a job in his relevant profession without griping about the job title.
It is a new life after all, one in which you will have to go through the same struggle that most successful people before you went through. It’s a given; get over it! For those who arrived here with an open mind, willing to do whatever it takes to be successful, ended up achieving much more than they bargained for. It is the law of attraction at its best. As for your late realization about having to ‘work much below your professional rank’ — duh! May be you’ve been in stupor about your true professional rank all your life. Welcome to reality!
You are not flexible and you carry the burden of your obsolete notions about society
Settling in Canada or any new place in the world is like unscrambling your life. The key is to be flexible in every sense of the word — to unlearn and re-learn. In the last two years that I have been in Canada, I have rediscovered my true potential in more ways than one. I have been able to broaden the horizons of my professional and personal learning beyond my wildest imaginations. I do not have enough time to count my blessings, let alone whine about my failures. While we are at it, please educate yourself about the equal respect that people in Canada are afforded irrespective of whether they teach at a school or work at Tim Hortons. The article in question sounded almost derogatory to all the wonderful hardworking people who make the terrible Canadian winters something to look forward to for hundreds of thousands of new (and not so new) Canadians. So if you value people solely on the basis of the colour of their collar, Canada is not the place for you.
You are innately negative and you surround yourself with people like you
As for all the warnings and advice the author received prior to embarking on her journey to failure-dom, consider my own example. In addition to the overwhelming encouragement and support I received from everyone I reached out to as a newcomer, I attribute my success to my stubbornly resolute desire to surround myself with only positive people. That has been the singular most impactful factor behind whatever personal and professional success I have achieved in a very short span of time. With that mindset in place, nature worked to bring me in front of positive people every time I would need help or encouragement. Like attracts like my friend and it works wonders when you surround yourself with positivity. But if it is in your very nature to tend to ignore the positives and being thankless for all you have, Canada is not quite the land of opportunities for you that it really is for thousands others.
It is a place for people with grit and resilience, people who value personal growth and achievement beyond bank balances as its sole measure, people who are not bystanders but an active member of their communities, people who share a relationship of respect with anyone and everyone they come across, people who cherish and celebrate not only diversity but social justice and inclusion, people who are smart risk-takers and have the priorities for themselves and their families all sorted out. Please accept my condolences if you do not fit into any of that. Once again, Canada is not the place for you.
You cannot own your decisions and do not have the courage to take the blame
Just like all major decisions in life, immigrating to a new country is a life-altering decision — one that is highly strategic in nature for yourself and your family. If you couldn’t pull it off despite taking the exact same decision that many immigrants took years before becoming first-generation millionaires in Canada, there has to be something fundamentally wrong with your approach. Successful Canadian immigrants never blame anyone for their failures — and yes they have had more than they can recount. Despite all the failures, they always focus on tailoring their strategy and readjusting their course, never losing sight of the goal. I always thought to myself, “even if one out of the millions of people who came to this country could be successful, so can I.” And of course there are more than a handful of examples of successful immigrants in Canada. So let’s admit it — you had the same chance and you blew it. As it stands now, you only have yourself to blame for not being able to materialize a future that many others coming from much less privileged backgrounds before you (and after you) did. The length of your list of people to blame will not change it in any way, because if your gut reaction to your failure is to look for people to blame, Canada is not the place for you.
You are the third kind
As a mentor for newcomers, I come across all kinds of people. There are three categories. First there are those who are true strategists and fighters — perennially optimistic and persevering in the wake of many early failures, determined to make their decision work for themselves and their families. They are the ones who know their goal and stop at nothing to achieve it. And guess what, without exception, they all do. Then there are those who left their luxurious lifestyles to immigrant to Canada with no clue as to what their motivation or objective was. They are the lost souls who can still make it because they have the attitude for it — positivity and grit.
And of course there are some like the author in question. They say they had everything anyone can hope to have in a lifetime — a perfect job, incredibly deluxe lifestyle, best education for children money can buy, and a bank balance they could live off without ever needing to work. Still, they say ‘a bug bit them’ and they decided to move to Canada for a reason they terribly fail to articulate in an 800-word write-up. Although I can write a separate 800-word article on the true motives behind that decision just reading between the lines as I did, I’ll save that for another time. This type has no idea what brought them to a whole new place and much less idea of how to let go of their ego and start a real struggle. If you have no clear goal for a major life decision, if you are not comfortable taking up the challenge of making it in one of the most competitive countries in the world, and if your ego is dearer to you than the dream of making Canada home for your children, alas; Canada is not the place for you.
Did I mention that the friend who shared the article was one of the third kind? He went back to his home country after his first setback. While he was in Canada for less than a year, he was in a visitor mindset and considered his place of birth his only home. If your definition of immigration is visiting a place outside of your home country rather than changing your home, Canada is not the place for you.
You are afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone
I have met people who have been in Canada for more than double the time I’ve been here and they have never attended one professional networking event, they haven’t heard the name of a single government-funded program that provides free services to immigrants, they have never written to another successful immigrant asking for guidance and advice, they don’t even have an updated LinkedIn profile and they still call their resume, a CV.
These people have seldom had a conversation with a person outside of their immediate community. Granted they had the taste of real success in their countries of birth or at other places, they experienced opulence and rubbed shoulders with their likes (aka people at senior professional ranks), still what they do not know is this: just like an accomplished sprint athlete would have to struggle to put his foot down on the floor once he is in zero-gravity, an immigrant has to reassess his strengths and accomplishments in relation to his new reality. It warrants going out of your comfort zone and doing things you never thought you needed to. You are bound to fail in your first attempts. Get done with all your failures as soon as you can and start enjoying the trade-offs that formed the core rationale of your decision to immigrate.
Majid Kazmi is a business consultant, writer and speaker in Toronto.