This last week has been one of those whenI needed to think about my identity or identities a little more intensively, again. I read things, had conversations or met new people, who made me think or react in certain ways that I had to reflect upon.
I read an essay from an expat girl from the US, who moved to Australia because of her relationship. She was describing her experiences and feelings in her new home country, and about how she was torn in between the old and the new homes. She felt she no longer belonged to none. Home was neither US nor Australia, while home was both of those places at the same time. She felt she was the ‘other’ one in both places.
I recalled that I had similar thoughts and feelings once. Am I now Turkish or German? Is my home Germany or Turkey? On top, people kept asking me: where do you feel more at home? Here or there? I basically had to choose between this or that. What a pressure. And honestly I was a bit confused, why do I have to choose? Can I just not be both this AND that?
During the course of the years I also lived in other places: USA, Italy and Sweden. So things were getting a little complicated. Now, do I have to decide on one from all these five? Which one is my home? This is when I gave up on it. I decided to belong to all those places and to none. The easiest is just to be myself. In all those places I feel equally at home and not at home. In all those places there are things that I embrace and those. That I simply do not understand or can simply live without. And I know that this will be the case wherever I go. Put me to Timbuktu, certain things I will love, certain ones I will learn to love and some will never make it there. This is just the way the world is and the way we are.
Last week I also met someone, a German lady, who returned ‘home’ after 14 years abroad. She told me she sometimes feels like an UFO. To begin with, she is no longer that fluent in her mother tounge. I couldn’t identify myself with her more….Turkey is home when I smell its smell, when I eat the bread, when I see my family and friends, when I watch the Bosphorus. Turkey is no longer home when I have to think much longer than I used to, to express myself correctly in certain occasions. Or when I have to back up my sentences with English or German words (and they sound sadly pretentious). It stops being home when people behave more rudely than I have experienced in other places. Yet, the same feelings I have for Italy, Sweden and USA also for that matter. I will always be the ‘other’ at some times and ‘one of us’ at some other times. In fact, the easiest is just be ‘myself’ at all times
2 thoughts on “On Being Myself”
Home is where the heart is, and the heart is shaped by the people. I feel that places I lived in history are for >90% characterized by the people I knew there at that time, and lost (or did not lose) their appeal with the people moving away from there (or not).
Then again it depends whether you are intro- or extravert for the above theory to overrule the appeal of the place itself.
Yes Robbert precisely the same for me. Home is everywhere where my beloved ones are and as long as they are around me 🙂