Belonging Neither Here nor There

It has been a while since I have logged on to here. Preoccupied with the start of my MA course and all that is involved in beginning a new chapter in life, I have neglected my little space online where I can truly be myself. And I’ve missed it. This is where I can escape the tangles of everyday life and the conflicted world around us; it is where I don’t have to apologise for preferring to focus on the softer, lighter side of life every now and then. We all need balance in our lives and these little moments of calm help us to navigate through a life that is strewn with turmoil, uncertainty, and anxiety for the future. My personal anxieties about the next few years have shifted to apprehension about the state of this place that is our home: political unrest, issues with climate change and the endless suffering surrounding us. So taking a few hours out of the day to think about something other than what the future holds for us is a chance to breathe and unravel my anxious mind. This is what I have missed about blogging.

This MA was supposed to be the start of a new journey, a journey to bring confidence and more certainty into my life. It was supposed to be a way of putting the past two years behind and taking a new outlook on life. In a way, it has brought even more uncertainty. Questions of identity have sprouted more quickly than I would have liked, and that quest for confidence has diminished any little grain of it that I had left. I don’t feel smart – or serious – enough to be studying this course. My preference for books about hygge and murder mystery novels doesn’t quite match up to French literature, and having pursued a more creative route in school means that my knowledge of global history is limited. The issue is not that I don’t want to learn more – I do, of course, which is why I decided to study this course; it is more about feeling inferior because of what I enjoy in my personal life, outside of lectures and the confines of academia. This, coupled with being away from my blog and minimal interaction with like-minded others, has made me feel like I don’t quite belong anywhere; I’m not quite there in the intellectual world nor am I here in the creative online sphere.

Not only has the start of this academic year brought up questions of who I am outside of lectures, but it has also made me feel disoriented with my two nationalities – ironically since I am studying Transnational Studies. In one of my modules, I am British and fluent in English. These are the lectures that I share with other students from all corners of the world: from the Middle East to South Asia to Latin America, we are all outsiders to the UK. Except that, there, I am the outsider because I am not very ‘foreign’. My peers see this positively because of my knowledge of the language and understanding of the British culture; I see it as another way of not quite belonging. In the rest of my modules, I am the only non-native speaker of English and I am very much seen as that; there, I am Polish, and also an outsider – so much so that it needed to be pointed out by a loud whisper. On this one little MA course, I belong neither as the British national nor as the little Polish immigrant girl who moved here at the age of seven. I don’t even seem to exist in the layers between the two nationalities. It feels strange and has scattered both my identity and confidence further.

Luckily, I am only there for three days a week so that when the weekend comes around, I know that I can be myself. I can feel close to both my physical home here in the south of England and my rooted home back in my tiny Stars Hollow-like town, where I spent the first few years of my life. It also means that I can make more time to be a part of somewhere where I feel like I belong, which is in this lovely place called the blogosphere.

Have you also struggled with your identity at some point in your life? What have been your experiences of it and how have you attempted to solve it?

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1 Comment

  1. Monika
    November 4, 2017 / 11:04 am

    I find identity can be something that worries so many people, and that everyone will have an opinion on, but that at the end of the day is a comfort too. If you find yourself part of two cultures it can be a truly great thing: you can appreciate the best bits of both!

    As a third generation Pole (all four of my grandparents moved here during/after the war) it’s difficult for some people to see me as anything but British (and they tell me that “You’re British!!” quite forcefully). After all, I was born here and English is my first language. But I don’t want to be fully British either… maybe it’s a Nationalism and Patriotism that remains in a family that were forced to flee their homeland and then fight for its liberation from afar.

    I also don’t feel like I am one of the “new” Poles; My Polish language skills aren’t great and I’m not au fait with new post-communist Poland, so I definitely can’t claim to be “fully Polish” even though that’s where my blood-line lies. No one in either of these two groups (the “Poles” and the “English”) completely understands or accepts me (although luckily both find me interesting).

    The people I feel most at home with are now a dying breed: those left over from the war-time immigrant generation. But they ARE there and they are “my people”. And that makes me feel special. At the end of the day, even if I didn’t know anyone else like me, I wouldn’t change my two nationalities for the world.

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