Please tell me why I’m not allowed to identify myself with multiple places. Tell me why I can’t look different to others around me and still be from the same place as those people. Tell me why it’s weird that I speak English and Chinese but not Hindi. Tell me why I can’t identify myself with India having never lived there. Tell me why I can’t have Punjabi, English and Korean music mashed together in one playlist. Tell me why my mother can’t make a quinoa salad, pan fried dumplings and kebabs on one night and put them on the table together side by side. Why can’t I eat those dishes together? You think it’ll taste weird? It all gets mixed up in my stomach anyway.
If I’m okay with this, why aren’t you? Why do I supposedly have an identity crisis? What’s wrong with being Indian from Hong Kong with the right to live and work in the UK? What’s wrong with having a Thai first name and an Indian last name? What’s wrong with moving around five times, going on a year abroad and joining a Korean society? What’s wrong with being a white English girl who loves Bollywood and learns Hindi at university? What’s wrong with being Turkish and assimilating with the Nigerian community?
Do you have a problem with that? Why? Is it because you can’t box us up? Is it because the various places we identify with oppose people like us? We don’t fit in anywhere because you don’t let us stand out. We’re not allowed to identify and feel at home in one country, community and society.
What if we can’t be pinned down? What if we don’t want to be? I can go to a Bollywood club night in the UK after eating stir fry for dinner and feel completely normal. It’s normal. So why isn’t being a citizen of three countries considered normal?
Who are you to tell us we are in crisis? The only one place we are tied down to is the planet itself. We are citizens of the world. Not everything we say or do has to be from one place.
You can be black and born in the UK, and have a clear sense of identity. By not quite knowing where I come from and by having a vast array of knowledge and a very mixed background, am I being untrue to myself? No. Because this myriad of knowledge and cultures and places is my identity. And I am not in crisis with it.
So if you feel like you need to be true to where you’re from, then be true to your heart and let it make you into a citizen of your own world. Don’t let geographical land masses and strictly boxed cultures pin you down.
I am not in a crisis. I belong to a state of personal flux and that is what I identify with. And you are more than free to do the same.