Why I dread being asked, "Where are you from?"
I have always struggled with this question. What do you say when you don't identify to one particular nationality, culture, or country?
The easy answer would be to say I'm British, but then this is usually followed up with, "Oh, where abouts in the UK are you from?" Since I've never actually lived in the UK, I then explain that I'm half British, half Filipino, and it's all great when people leave it at that. However, sometimes there are a few that will then ask, "yes, but where's home for you?" And I brace myself for the long explanation that lies ahead.
The reality is I am half British, half Filipino. Dual citizenship, I hold both the British and Filipino passports. My father is from the United Kingdom, my mother from the Philippines, and yet I spent most of my childhood in neither. I was born in Indonesia, lived there for a few years before I moved and had the chance to live in India, Singapore, and China before going back to Indonesia, then the Philippines, and finally, Iraq.
In most cases, I don't mind giving this explanation to people. Sometimes it's nice to share a little, and if I have the time anyways, why not? It usually depends on how long they're actually willing to listen - sometimes they ask just to be polite and I can tell when they've lost interest - haha. This isn't the main reason why I dread the question. I'm almost always up for a conversation.
I dread the question because every time someone asks me this, I feel a small tug at my heart when I realise I still haven't found a place I feel like I belong in. It's almost as if I have a small identity crisis, and I feel lost for a split second. NPA - No Permanent Address. A nomad. Don't get me wrong though. I would never change my childhood for anything. I am so grateful to have had the chance to travel a lot as a kid. It has shaped me into the open minded person I am today. I feel like I can adapt to any place. It's almost as if every country or culture I get the privilege of immersing myself in makes a little mark in who I am as a being.
At the same time though, I've also come to realise that the concept of "home" doesn't necessarily have to mean a certain place. It can mean the people you're with or the experiences you go through. In the past, I have felt like I was generally happy to be in a place largely because of the people I was interacting with at the time. But when those people are gone, or they have to leave to do their own thing, I then realise that it was more of a temporary happiness. When will I find something that feels permanent? Those of you who did grow up in just one place, what was that like? I've always wondered.
Have you ever felt like you couldn't relate to just one culture? Ever feel like you didn't belong in just one place, but in multiple? Let me know what it was like for you, maybe we're in similar boats, and it's always nice to know you aren't the only one that's still trying to find "home". I'll get there. One day. Eventually.