More than a physical move, border crossing allows you to make an entire switch to yourself

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

Borders. Crossing them, escaping from the place I know, finding myself in this curious and thirsty mood of experiencing difference and freedom in this place where I'm a newcomer. I believe that borders have created these feelings in me since I remember. In the last few years, it almost became a necessity for me to run away from routine by making a move to 'somewhere else'. Some more place to discover, to enjoy with a feeling of having to worry about nothing but the wind on your face. One year ago, I turned depressive. In the last months, this urge to escape from what makes me suffer and I feel stuck in has become more and more pressing, until I moved to Dublin. I wanted it, despite the heartbreak caused by leaving my truly loved ones, the ones I never get bored of. However, if you can escape people and events, a disease is something you can not run away from. Things are getting more manageable, but remain far from being fixed. During the last weeks, I have been continuously asking myself the question of what does a 'move' really mean. I found out that for me, rather than an escape, moves and border crossings are mostly a way of taking some distance and put you in a mood of being ready to learn again, from others, from cultures, from differences, from freedom and experiences. More than a physical move, border crossing allows you to make an entire switch to yourself.

It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I had an appointment booked at the PPS office in Dublin to acquire a PPS card to enable me to be part of Irish society, and received racist treatment, judgement, blocking me from getting a PPS number even though I have every right to one, and then a complete change of attitude once they realised my company had arranged the appointment for me after an international relocation.

I do not look Irish, I look Asian. After I have witnessed the rudeness to me, the deliberate obstruction of the office staff blocking me from a PPS number, and the rude attitude to others in the waiting room that I also observed, it is my belief that everyone who passes through that PPS office as an immigrant gets treated like 'scum'.

I felt that every effort was made to create a difficult situation that will block or scare or confuse those who are eligible for a PPS number as well as those who are not. I understand that some may be there asking for a PPS and benefits when they are not eligible, but I believe there is a polite, non-personal, non emotional process to determine this without creating fictional barriers, without judgement and prejudice, and without treating each candidate derisively 'until proven otherwise'.

I don't know if all staff working there have the same attitude as I only interviewed with one person. However, I do know that she had a big sign printed up telling me why I was not eligible, and the information on it was contradictory to what my relocation company (IrishRelo) had told me the requirements were. This means that the PPS office is giving out different and incorrect information, not the factual information that the relocation companies advise on and as the policies are set out.

I will explain what actually happened step by step:

  1. I have moved to Ireland with my husband who works for a corporate here, we are married so I require a PPS for tax purposes, I was also asked for PPS by my landlord (so I think you need it for renting but I am not sure), and I also want to learn to drive so I needed it for a provisional driving license.

  2. My husband went for his appointment separately to me, accompanied by Irish Relo, and he is a tall white guy - rarely running into discrimination! His experience was very pleasant, smooth, and friendly. I was not expecting anything different as I also had the paperwork from Irish relo, had gone through their checklist of what to bring, and arrived with my marriage certificate etc.

  3. When I spoke to the person in charge of my appointment, she was very rude and abrupt, I told her that my husband and I just moved over, the details of his company and that I would need the PPS for marriage tax and tax purposes, as well as to learn to drive.

  4. She said that I cannot get a PPS number unless I have proof that I need one. I showed her the marriage certificate and she said this is not proof. I showed her emails from his company and she said that this does not mean that I require a PPS or am entitled to one, just because he is working.

  5. I mentioned that I would not be able to do simple things like go to the doctors or take driving lessons if I did not have a PPS, but she said I would need proof that I am learning to drive.

  6. I explained again that I need a PPS simply to apply for the Irish provisional license so I would not be able to have proof yet - I asked what would be considered proof in my case, and she said a driving license application form. I said this was ridiculous as it takes 1 minute to download and print one and anyone can print one - it is not proof one way or the other so why did I need to provide this? It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier.

  7. I pulled out the checklist I had printed off, that Irish Relo had given me stating (in the PPS office's invite letter) the list of items I needed to have with me, and I checked off each one as present. She took the list off me and threw it in her bin, and I demanded it back.

  8. She kept saying that I need to go and get proof, and would have to arrange another appointment (which would take 1-2 weeks)

  9. Finally, I managed to point out to her that Irish Relo had sent me, at which point she suddenly realised that I should not be categorised in her mind as 'immigrant' aka 'undeserving person', but as 'high earning expat, working for a corporate'. In that moment her whole expression and demeanour changed, and suddenly she was as helpful as she could be. She produced a blank driving license application form which she had a pile of in her draw, and told me to add my name. She processed my paperwork and issued a PPS number. Why was I getting this different treatment now? Why was I a diffent case in her eyes?

  10. I was grateful that I had managed to break through her wall of prejudice, but I was so saddened at the stark contrast between her treatment of me when she had categorised me as one thing or the other, and the different treatment towards my white husband. It showed me a very two-faced organisation who, given their purpose and their audience, should surely be regulated on their treatment of people and be trained to keep a neutral response.

Whatever is happening here, and whether or not she has on other occasions been right about non-eligibility for a PPS number, there was no need for such an attitude of prejudice, derision and disparagement. I was saddened as I looked around the room and saw others who may have had much more difficult journeys to get to Ireland than I have, may need the PPS number much more than I do, and now have to face the belittling attitude of this woman as one of their first 'welcomes' into the country. Potentially other administrators have the same checklist (it was a printed out list in shouting capital letters with an official logo). I believe the checklist itself was incorrect and should not be allowed as they are the official issuing office of the PPS.

I also observed lots of processes that cause anger, annoyance and dismissive behaviour in the staff and the visitors - for example all who book appointments are given set times, (mine was 10.15), and then told to wait - we have to go in to the booth when our time-slot comes up. There was no communication that they were running over an hour late, they did not call the name of the next appointment, there was no ticket-line system, and people keep getting up worrying that they had missed their appointment or that someone else has skipped ahead. I was lucky that english is my first language and I could approach a staff member to ask, and I could also be brave enough to ask those around me and understand that they were ahead of me in the queue. Others were not feeling so brave - Especially for those who are nervous, or did not have English as their first language, this was extremely confusing. By time people get into their appointment an atmosphere of stress, worry, impatience and confusion has been created in the applicants. Meanwhile an 'observation' of how rude and impatient immigrants are, is being constantly reinforced in the minds of the administrators - surely these processes could be evolved for a better experience for all rather than fostering racism from day one?

My identity which is made up and borrowed and assembled like a jigsaw puzzle

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

i'm rootless. i carry a passport that has no relationship to my identity, my identity which is made up and borrowed and assembled like a jigsaw puzzles were the pieces just don't fit together. i can't claim a nation, a culture, a language, dna that is 'my people'. i have an irish name but i am not irish - i came here with my husband and i love him and i would go anywhere with him - but my heart beats for a home that i don't have. i want to belong somewhere and i just don't and i don't know how to start. is it something you can even start or something you just born with and know? does it come from the earth of where you were born, the religion of the rituals you perform, the ID you flash at immigration officials, the pubs you drink in?

I actually like my accent being different. It is who I am.

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I look like I belong here, I think. But I speak, and all of a sudden I am other. My accent is wrong. I have to explain who I am, why I'm here, how often I go "home", what I think of Ireland, what it's like where I'm from, etc. etc. For 18 years now, and counting. Young ones say I'm not Irish even though I've lived here longer than they have. Amazing what the exact way you say words has an effect on how those words are heard. People read back stories, mostly untrue, into what they hear because it is said in an accent that isn't theirs. I don't hear the Irish accents because I'm surrounded by them, work with people with them, have family with them... so I forget I have a different one. But people remind me. Even on holidays to other parts of the world, people point out that my husband and I say things differently. Our accents aren't the same. And the explanations begin again. It's a pain, all the explaining, but you know, I actually like my accent being different. It is who I am. It is my history. It is my parents accent. It is my sister's accent. It's is my school friends' accents. It is an accent that ceases to exist when I go "home" and don't have to explain anymore.

Always on the move

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

Always on the move, I have always felt out of place whenever I stand still so I just keep on moving.

It marked me forever, being different

I crossed borders literally and metaphorically. Before EU my biggest fear was immigration police. I have encountered them and I had luck not to get into trouble on multiple occasions. But it haunted me in everything I did, it marked me forever, being different, not being allowed to do things as non national, as an alien. I made the journey to change my life and I did, but fear always followed. Being told' this is my country' by a native, being told I cannot do certain things because of an accent marked my psyche.

A print of myself into your memory

When I am down. I fall deeply down. I mope in my thoughts. Sometimes I confide in someone. Sometimes I keep it to myself. Last time I used to vomit out the words into my diary. The thing is, I seem often happy. Really, compare me to any other more unfortunate people around the world lacking in food, water and shelter, I am considered well-off enough. I do not need to worry about the next day and how I can survive. But yet, sometimes I feel down. I've seen more than one friendship that I've had fading away in front of me. And sometimes (maybe because I don't necessary ask for it) , I wonder if I mean anything to anyone. If I am gone one day, will I be missed? Will they just mourn for me until a month or a week is over and put it aside in their mind? Why am I here again? Is there a reason I was born? What if I am actually unneeded? Then what is the point? Is my life meaningless? Those questions are the reason why I try so hard to leave something behind to show that I existed. A print of myself into your memory. A good deed done for a random stranger. Reaching out first to help people. But then again, the things you do for others, they might not always remember. They move on with their lives. And that is just how it is. But what can I do? For now, I don't really know. Because the future is uncertain, although I wish there was some way to know.

It would be striking up a conversation with a stranger, where I would share that instant chemistry with and enjoy their attention, connection and the impromptu friendship and vulnerability.

It would be striking up a conversation with a stranger, where I would share that instant chemistry with and enjoy their attention, connection and the impromptu friendship and vulnerability. That gives me an unexpected happiness - as it gives some sort of hope that this conversation and acquaintance could grow into something more? A guilty pleasure/confession is feeling very satisfying, watching people who offended me and hurt me get their Karma pay-back, which always makes them suffer x10 more than what they did to me. That makes me happy and scared of my own self at the same time. The other confession is that there are some guys that would come across to me as intelligent and arrogant and hard to get - I like to use that chemistry I have with them and act completely uninterested and cold - other times low-key flirt - and just play with their minds. I need to stop doing that though.

All I can see is shadows of past dreams and windows gloating at me

I was once sure of what I wanted, when I was a child. But as I grew up, I realised my options grew with me too. So I tried to narrow them down to a few routes. And I started walking on those routes. And so, I walked and walked even as the ground started to feel more bumpy and I started regretting and doubting. Was it because, I really wasn't as good as I thought? Why did I feel stumped the more further away I went and my shoulders heavier with the weight of doubt and insecurity?

When I was young, whenever I felt downtrodden by my failures, somehow I had the drive to go on. In the past, things were clearer to me, which road I would take and not look back. But now, I look down and the road has stopped. Countless times, I have looked back, unsure of my decisions. Now I am blocked by my own fear. I see people far away, achieving greater things yet they are so much younger than me. I know it doesn't actually matter the age as long as you keep trying, but with each tick-tocking, I feel rushed. Rushed to not disappoint my younger self, to reach somewhere, to achieve something. As the time passes, the sound grows louder and faster. And yet, I find myself on a standstill. Turning back from where I am, I no longer know where I want to go, the directions in my mind are a jumbled mess. What am I going to do now? The roads are no longer clear to me. All I can see is shadows of past dreams and windows gloating at me , the success that seems unreachable, that I didn't try hard enough. That I wouldn't make it anywhere. That I am nothing. So I close my eyes and try to sleep these feelings away.

I am me, not an example

I am person who really not say been through alot but i would like to say going through times where i got scolded and punished by my parents, i really hope that a have a 2nd personality to cope with me through those times. I have stolen from my family a number of times, some might say i am young.. well i have to agree but now thinking back , Hey! I just wanted to be noticed. I was the oldest out of 3 children, and i was always told since i am the oldest i have to set an example. But now i know, i am me, not an example, i want to try and find the path i want to go and strive towards it, I am not the oldest I am me.

I think I may be happier the other way round

I Have high IQ but low EQ. I think I may be happier the other way round.

But, I still miss her

For 2 years I had the deepest infatuation for her, poured my heart and soul into her, but she didn't like me at all. After 2 years, she told me she told me the opposite. But by then, I left her and I was gone. Ironically, both of us were shattered. But, I still miss her.

I hate being a doormat

I like to please everyone and wants everyone to like me, but i dont like it. I hate being a doormat because i cant say no. And when i do share my feeling about how i feel to a particular person, i am deemed as rude. Sometimes i feel left out when it comes to friends. To be honest i rather live in solitude then live with my family because i want peace. Sometimes i wake up to my mum and grandma arguing. Sometimes my mum and dad. Sometimes i wake up and she argues with me. I just want a friend that doesnt take me for granted and just be there and if i cant get that. I rather be alone and live alone. Painting and drawing. I am happy though, because even though negativity outweighs my life more, doesnt mean i have to be negative. I am positive and i know one day ill be happy in an apartment i will buy and be a painter or an artist and just be content with life.

I've learnt to embrace my flaws

I'm tired.

I'm really tired of being happy, enthusiastic and pretending that everything is okay. These were the qualities that enabled me to survive. Some who know who I really am - I'm a terrible introvert. I hate going out. I hate socialising. I dont like to be happy and enthusiastic all the time.

Growing up in a very restrictive and strict family -

There were times when I was younger when I thought about suicide- I was 12 when I realised I had depression. But I couldn't bear it.

Why did I have depression? Well, I had pressure from doing badly in school- Failing math. My parents were so strict, I felt like a bird in a cage. It was suffocating for me.

When I was 14, I admitted to my parents about my disorder and went to a counciler. He told me I was being 'mature', but for me - I had many mixed emotions. Was I really being mature? Wasn't I a coward for not being able to cut or end myself? I had doubts but I just let it slide. (I'm glad I did)

It's been a few years since those dark days. There were definitely times when I thought about depression again, but I think I grew passed it.

I managed to be able to cope with it better. I thanked my 'cowardly' self when I was younger that I didn't manage to harm myself. I learnt to love myself more and began to start appreciating my body. Sure there were times I've wondered why I had my flaws, but then again, it's those flaws that made me who I am. Thus, with that in mind, I've learnt to embrace my flaws. After working at a service job, which made me realise many things, I grew to understand more about the adult world as well.

It's not easy to survive in the real world. I've learnt that I should use my time now and start thinking and planning for the future.

Depression, anxiety, other disorders are sure to come. More in the future.They are the obstacles in my life yet I need to learn to overcome them.

It's a tiring and tedious process, but I hope the ending of my story will end well.

I am unable to help myself

I decided to stop taking my depression medication for a few months, and I can feel myself falling back into a bad place again. It has been a long fight and honestly there are so many times I want to give in and give up on everything in my life.

The worst part is that I have to mask my condition, and I managed get through till my last year in university, but I am so afraid that in this final year when it counts the most, would be the time that I will fall again. And the strangest part is that I study in a social science course that is suppose to help people, and yet I am unable to help myself. And I feel most ashamed of that, and that I don't have the right to help others because I cannot even help myself.

I am magnificent and at the same time worthless

I have darkness; a deep malcontent which is always searching and yearning for satiation. I am the darkness, and it is me. But, by nature, it is unseen, which means I go unseen. I feel unheard, misunderstood, unfairly judged by the world and those in it. I feel a desire for objects to hold inside me. I feel like they will keep me safe, or at the least, distracted. But they do not, because they are part of the darkness, and so the more I focus on my acquisition and achievement the most I melt away from the light and become further from my ultimate goal - to be truly seen and understood by someone.

This cycle of madness is unending, and all-encompassing. Every so often it will bring me to my knees, where I will ask God for forgiveness and guidance. I do not know if He responds, but I always end up in the same place so I think not. Or perhaps I just stop listening. I feel empty and worthless. A sense of profound insignificance plagues my waking thoughts and destroys my drive. What's the point? I ask. No reply comes. At the same time, when my ideas are challenged I feel a pain somewhere deep inside, as if someone has not only challenged my thoughts but my person; my existence.

Though I try not to show it to the people I love most, there is a large part of me which believes I am supreme. I think in a way like no other. I come to conclusions that only the best might arrive at. And every thought spoken is backed by a sea of thoughts never uttered. So you see I exist in a constant state of flux. I am magnificent. And at the same time, worthless. And all the time I am yearning for something that I can never know, for as soon as I know my desire, it moves on to something else. So what is it like to be me? Like shifting sands in the nighttime.

I ran away

I ran away. I couldnt take the stress so I chose the easier way out. It seems like its a suitable choice, but I cant help feeling like a coward. Its not nice feeling mediocre. there's nothing that I'm special at, so it feels as if even if I disappear, not much will change. It doesnt feel good knowing you're forgettable, like the second choice when someone else is unavailable. but its okay!!! I'll do my best to bring positivity to make someone's else life a little brighter. I'll be as sincere as I can. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Nobody knows that I have been drinking alcohol like a mineral water

I hit to the pub, to drink. Only to find myself tipsy... and drunk. It has become a habit now. A habit where people around me do not know or taken noticed of. I hide it from family and friends as our religious has restricted us from touching alcohol. For each and every time I drink, it reminded me of..... the 44 days unforgivable from god. I don't know how to stop. Nobody knows that I have been drinking alcohol like a mineral water. It's funny, I know....

No one knows that I still miss my grandpa.

No one knows that I  still miss my grandpa. I never got to see his cremation, I never looked at his face in the casket at the wake because I was too scared that this was real, and I never got to say goodbye because my family never told me he was hospitalized until it was too late. Every time I think about him I cry, but at the same time it seemed to me that even when he was alive he never had both feet in our world at the same time. His piscean eyes always saw what came before and what would come after, he shunned doctors and walked barefoot on the road and went to subud but also went to church; he collected books about mediums and spirits and the lives we all lead (I stole one in a fit of grief, hoping I would understand him more after I read it but I haven't been able to open it yet). He looked at the clouds and at the stars, he opened his heart to animals and swindlers and children's charities; he spoiled me and my brother and he taught me to catch butterflies, to rinse sand out of my eye with a damp cloth, to be kind to my only brother, to feed the stray cats, to recognize orion's belt and venus on cloudless nights, to switch the lights off in a thunderstorm...

 

I miss you so much and it hurts worse that I never will remember the last thing I said to you. I'm so sorry I couldn't make it. I’m sorry I was such a brat when I was young and I'm sorry I stopped talking to you as we got older. Did you ever find what you were looking for? Are you in heaven watching channel 5 reruns of Tanglin, or are you back here on earth as a moth or a hungry ghost, or has your soul ascended to the great ball of energetic light suspended in the 4th dimension, or will your only afterlife be the one where you still semi-live in our memory? Will i ever stop crying over you? Please forgive me. I love you so much and so does my mom and we hope you're doing okay out there (and I hope maybe I can see you again when the time comes too.)

My only regret in life is not expressing my appreciation for someone I loved so dearly

My only regret in life is not expressing my appreciation for someone I loved so dearly. Stupid because that was a reason why he broke up with me, and it still haunts me till this day. I guess it wasn't that I didn't notice the things that he did, it was just that I was scared that he would get tired of me expressing my gratefulness. What a stupid fear, what an absolutely horrid excuse. It has haunted me for so long and I don't know if I can ever recover from the guilt that I feel.