– that’s the question that that every young Iranian seems to be battling with. To either leave to wherever the horizon of possibilities is broader, or to remain among their loved ones on soil so barren that it gives the feeling that hope itself has emigrated elsewhere.
In one way or another, all of us are eventually forced to compromise. Some choose to rely on the words of those who already have left, naïvely believing their descriptions of the paradise that exists beyond their own country’s borders – not for a second considering that they may be describing it in that way because of social desirability, i.e. the disposition to speak in the way that’s expected of them. And in contrast, some try to convince others to stay, wanting them to fight for their own country so that they too can get sufficient hope to stay and fight for a brighter future and not feel that they are alone in wanting to do so.
Something that binds both these groups together is the rather distorted view they have of what it’s like on the other side of the world. Many seem to believe that the films and TV-shows they’ve watched growing up reflect the cultures of the countries they were produced in just like how Iranian productions image our culture, and that everyone’s happy, carefree and rich. Many who hear about the friendliness of Western people and the smiles that they so easily give to each other believe that it means that everyone’s overflowing with happiness, without comparing it to the hollowness of our own tarof, in which there’s no true concern or love behind words or gestures, even though it most certainly seems that way to a person who isn’t familiar with our culture.
And it strikes me as odd that all those who consider leaving so very carelessly take for granted what our culture has that others don’t, almost thinking that they, when abroad, will be able to “eat the Western cake and have the Persian too”. For example, the nature of relationships is drastically different in Western countries. No longer will men get kisses and words of endearment by other men, or be able to expect that the partner they’re looking for will cook, clean and care for them as long as they provide for them; no longer will friends call as comfortably and randomly, or visit and casually invite you to their home. No longer will you have the constant feeling that you immediately are accepted by strangers, and no longer will there be that same kind of emotional involvement and investment in your life by your new friends. There’ll be mixed-gender friendships, which is wonderful but may be difficult for some to get used to, and a focus on independence (including the expectation that you too will be independent), a striving for one’s own successes and social relations that to a great extent revolve around shared interests and superficialities such as drinking. And of course, the grim risk of falling into the continuously expanding pit of racism.
Whilst it’s true that most people who emigrate manage to be more successful career wise, the cultures in the countries they usually move to are so individualistic (as opposed to Iran’s collectivistic culture) that the newly flourished Iranians who have gone abroad stand sadly alone as the bloomed flower they’ve become in the otherwise empty garden, something that some unfortunately come to terms with by distancing themselves from their roots and changing themselves in order to fit in.
Even though it may seem that way, I do not wish to convince anyone to stay if it goes against their true wishes. But then again, if no one wanted to stay at all, this question would not in any way have led to an inner battle in the first place and the person in question would probably not have been interested in this post. But in the end, it’s completely up to you. If you’re uncertain, maybe it’d do you good to just go on vacation to the country you’re considering moving to before actually moving, so as to get a feeling for what it’s like. Otherwise, just go with your guts. Follow your dreams. Listen to your heart. Just don’t walk in anyone else’s footsteps or allow anyone to steer your direction for you. Because otherwise the battle will for sure just keep going on even long after you’ve made your decision.