Neither From Here Nor There

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

So, here you are

Too foreign for home

Too foreign for here

Never enough for both

- Ijeoma Umebinyuo

Neither from here nor there. A mix of everything combined, trying to make sense of where we fit into the scheme of things that is often split between either you are this or you are the other.

We are currently living in an era of constant movement where the political climate, globalization, migration and cross-cultural contact impact our understanding of self and who we are in relation to others. Many individuals living in the diaspora, including myself, might come across situations where a simple question of whether you are going home for the holidays gets you searching where home really is? Is home the country I am living in? Is it where my family is? Or is it where my ancestors are from? For some this question is easy to answer, for others this feels like a scattered map that requires connecting the dots. You see, you are the bridge that connects two different worlds together but you are also the only one who is living in these two worlds simultaneously. Being mindful that these distinct worlds hold different cultural narratives, memories and experiences; at times, it can feel like you are in conflict with different parts of your own self –not fully belonging anywhere.

I often hear people comment how “rich”, “interesting” and “lucky” I am to hold different cultural backgrounds. They stare at you with such wonder and curiosity waiting to hear your experience but when the conversation winds down they go back home, while you are left to continue your journey in search of belonging. It is interesting to be living in a globalizing society that is experiencing an increase in diverse cultural identities and interconnections – to share, experience and be a part of so many different worlds, but at the same time to be a part of none. So how does one make sense of the self when living in the realm of juxtaposition?

Nadir Nahdi, a multicultural social influencer, caught my attention with a documentary dedicated to finding his Grandma (If you haven’t seen it… stop what you are doing and go watch it!*). Feeling excited about someone out there speaking of topics that are relatable to many; naturally I searched for more. And in one of Nadir’s interview with Arab News he states, “I like to think people like me don’t see the world in the kind of arbitrary, binary ways that many people do. I’ve learned that it’s a privilege, it’s a blessing to feel like you belong to the whole world”, well there is a thought!

The truth is, we aren’t really going anywhere; in fact, we are increasing in numbers. This might be the time to connect and reflect with others who are also going through similar conflicting experiences as you. Is there a way to nurture our sense of self? Research shows that people with dual or multiple cultural backgrounds often demonstrate high adaptability, flexibility and creativity. Can we make use of the tools we already possess to explore who we are and what we are comfortable with? Each person is unique. It’s a process.



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