Why Did You Leave Your Country?

That’s a fair question to ask to anyone that’s trying to make a living away from all their friends and relatives, specially if you come from the beautiful sunny Portugal, where life goes slowly by the sea. Let’s face it, things have dramatically changed over the past years. Since the end of the last World War, Portugal has been losing entire generations to emigration, either to escape the Salazar totalitarian regime or simply to avoid the fate of becoming dependent of an unemployment wage or underpaid salary for their entire adult life.

It was because I wanted to, not because I had no other choice.

Nowadays I believe things have changed for the better (although one might say the cost of living caught up quite quickly) and people tend to leave the comfort zone to quieten whatever keeps them awake at night. Sometimes it’s money, the ambition for a better way of living, sometimes it’s to run away from something, other times even to find out who they really are. The truth is everyone has their own reason and mine was no more no less than claustrophobia.

To challenge myself and find out where my limits are.

Every day while driving back home from work I struggled for air. The air that keeps me excited, looking forward for another day, inspiring the people I was supposed to lead at work, the air that would keep my blood pumping and my brain alive was slowly running out. I had memorised all the roads of my lovely hometown, the town that brought me into this world and where I lived for 27 years, the town that suddenly became too small for my dreams. Where do my limits lie? What’s needed to get me on my knees and cry for momma? Let’s go away and find out.

“Money, so they say Is the root of all evil today”

I had the best life one can wish for with 25 years old: the car, the house by the sea, the company I built since day one and the pocket with enough cash to finance all the small luxuries and the seafood dinners. So why on God’s green earth would I leave all of that behind? Not only did I leave but also took a job with a lower salary and double the living expenses in the other side of the world! Turns out that the most rewarding experiences of my life were the ones where I “lost” money in the process. It’s for me a consequence of what I do, not the reason. What drives me is the challenge, what I learn and the ability to help others that share the same path.

What about you? Why did you leave your country? Or maybe an even more interesting question is: why do you stay?

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Why Did You Leave Your Country? was originally published in MeetJoão on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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