Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Identity

Identity is part perception, right?

So if people perceive you as being X, but you perceive yourself as not being X, are you X or not?

If you are born somewhere, or live there for a long time, does it make you that nationality?

Legalities and citizenships aside, I mean. If your gut feeling is that you aren't that nationality, even though you might hold the relevant passport, then are you right?

I know how I feel about it all: you are what you feel you are, and passports etc. are about laws and controls, not about your identity at all.

So although I hold an NZ passport and am an NZ-er, I'm not really a kiwi at all. I live here, but I don't really belong.

It's difficult to explain without people getting insulted as if you're rejecting the country (man do people get super-personal if they feel you're rejecting NZ!). Otherwise they accuse you of having your cake and eating it too, or of being a snob. Oh, or they tell you loftily that you'll miss it when you go overseas and will end up eating your words.

But it isn't any of that at all. It's simply that I don't belong.

And, for the record, I miss some people and things that are here when I go away, but I don't miss being in NZ, or the feeling of living somewhere where I really don't belong.

I'm ok with not belonging - it's taken some thinking and learning, but I am. I'm also ok with the fact that so many people here feel that this is the right place for them. Different people, different needs, right?

So why is it so impossible for them to accept how I feel?

4 Comments:

Blogger Violet said...

so how come you don't feel like an NZer, if you're from here?

10:27 pm  
Blogger The Skirt said...

Well I wasn't born here, since I moved here 20 years ago I've just never "fit" right. I don't know why - it certainly isn't for lack of trying!

8:43 am  
Blogger The Editter said...

I wonder if part of the difficulty of others not understanding why you feel like you don't belong is when you look and sound you belong? I don't know if that makes sense, or if my assumption that you're white and a native speaker of English is correct, but your post reminded me of the "not belonging" feeling a kiwi friend who has lived in London for years now complains about.

She says that British and Kiwi people have some fundamental cultural differences, but that her British friends don't appreciate that. Her main gripe is that they don't understand her sense of humour, they mistake her cynicism for nastiness and she feels she constantly has to explain herself. And she says the fact that her cultural difference is invisible makes it all the harder.

Anyway, don't know if that has any relevance to how you feel, but what you said made me think of what she'd said!

10:34 am  
Blogger The Skirt said...

You know, Editter, I think you may be right! I do "fit" in on the outside, just not on the inside.

1:52 pm  

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