The Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years and humans for 2 million years. During this time humanity has evolved constantly and the population has grown exponentially all the way to the current year 2020. Among other divisions, the world is geographically divided into seven continents and politically into 195 countries.
All of this is to say that one day, after humanity has existed for millions of years, you are brought into this world and are given a name among other identities. You are also born in one of the 195 countries and obtain a nationality, where a good number of people also grow up and live at least the first part of their lives and in some cases, their entire life.
Depending on which country or culture you are born in, you are now supposed to navigate through all the good and bad while also hearing that other people expect you to be patriotic and proud of your upbringing. Unfortunately for a lot of people though, their real identities do not match with the culture they are born in and taking into consideration other issues such as government corruption or a poor economy there’s really only one thing in mind of these people, to leave the country as soon as possible in search of a better future.
Kosovo is one of the newest independent countries in the world and it has a rich cultural history and land that countless people have died fighting to protect. How we got here is through noble sacrifice on the backs of women and men who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy. Nevertheless the state of the country and its people is now assuredly less than desirable for one too many reasons.
It’s not all about the economy
Not many citizens are happy with where the country is right now and a lot of them are looking for a way out of here. But depending on who you’re asking the reason or reasons may very well vary. Some are trying to find better job opportunities, some want to join family members abroad while for certain other people the reason why may be deeper and more personal.
As a deeply patriarchal, religious and white-presenting country, Kosovo suffers from a lot of social issues. There are few other countries that treat its minorities as horrifically as Kosovo does; this is due to systematic racism, overall population ignorance and flat out racism. Then there’s good old fashioned misogyny that’s always been ever-present in the country’s history and while now women may have more freedom and opportunities than ever, gender equality is still nowhere near close enough.
The third group that’s also always been mistreated and disregarded as people is the LGBTQ+ community. Although things have clearly improved over the years on this front as well, with the Pride Parade taking place every year since 2016, the general population’s opinion has to change much more if equality is to be achieved. So now that we have somewhat of an idea as to what kind of problems individuals may face when being born and raised in Kosovo, let’s go slightly deeper into what one person’s life looks like when faced with some of these phobias all around the country.
“Ana” tells our story
Let’s take as an example this made-up — yet true to life — person named Ana who is an 18 year-old girl born and raised in Prizren where she is currently in her last year of high school and plans to graduate in two months. Ana happens to be a white, queer woman who hasn’t really ever felt free at home or elsewhere.
This is because her family is very religious and would never accept her coming out as queer, while on the other hand although still very young, she has experienced misogyny all her life. From her family, to classmates and friends, she has never felt welcomed anywhere as her true self, so to navigate these situations she has had to fake her identity since day one of her social life.
At home all she can think about is going out and when she’s out all she can think is leaving this country for another one where she can live as her true self. She understands that she is privileged to have been born white, because were she to be born of another color, not only would she face racism here, but really pretty much everywhere else she goes throughout the world.
She’s been told that she can’t do certain things and has been denied certain desires because she has to “act like a proper girl” and find a husband to be marry, to whom she has to be obedient and have children with while she grows old inside the house doing chores and serving his family and him as if he isn’t a grown man able to take care of himself at all.
For Ana and people like her, Kosovo is a less than ideal place to live in for several reasons. This is the reality that a lot of people but especially people in younger generations face everyday living in a backward country with a broken and outdated mentality.
Risking it all for a better chance
The refusal and inability to grow and adapt with the more progressive countries is why so many young people feel like they can’t breathe properly.
The constant failure to achieve visa liberation and the corruption and the government lies have left a lot of people exhausted and in search of a change. Leaving the country does most certainly not guarantee that life will immediately get better, but it does offer more opportunities and as a people, we are starved for those. “A chance at a better life” is one of the most intriguing offerings that you could possibly come across, people know that the guarantee isn’t there, yet they are willing to risk a lot just for a chance at something better and more secure.
This of course is not said as a means to put every single individual citizen under the same umbrella as there are people who are very much content in living in Kosovo as it is. They might even get upset if you tell them that you plan on leaving, but the point is that people can only hold on for so long, and time is running out for some.
You can’t blame anyone for wanting something better somewhere else, because at the end of the day, that’s all this is about; a chance at something better somewhere else with better living conditions. That’s simply called being human and having standards.
This blog is part of our #Youth2020 series. Want to share what’s on your mind? Click here to find out more.
Feature image: Arrita Katona / K2.0.