Don´t ask me where I´m from, ask where I am a local

“How can a human come from a concept?”  – Taiye Selasi

Indeed. How could a human come from a concept? How can a concept define all of it´s millions of ´nationals´? I have always wondered how and why people feel so confident saying they are from a country. Because in any country, as in the entire world, not two people are alike. So how can millions of people have common ground in a concept, a concept that is different for each and every one of these millions of people based on the place they grew up, based on the way they were raised.

It´s absolutely amazing to hear someone else speak the words you have always thought of. Though Taiye Selasi and I have fairly little in common when you would look at our histories, I feel like I know her very well, and I think all other global citizens, so-called third culture children, will do to, because we share ´ Rituals*´.

The feeling of not telling the complete truth when people ask you where you are from, because you have been influenced by so many other things, so many other places and experiences, yet people will only hear where your passport says you are from. People will put you in a box and say you are a national to this country, but you aren´t.  When you act too different, people will take you out of the box and say you are not a national,  but you are.

“My experience is where I´m from¨ is among the brilliant this Selasi claims in this video. Experiences shape who you are and are in many ways far more important than concepts and the stereotypical ideas we connect to them. Saying you are from a certain country means nothing when you consider all the different nuances there are in being from a country. Did you grow up there? Where? What social class? How did your parents raise you? Where did you go afterward? What influenced your life? All of these are experiences. Experiences that shape your life. Experiences that are more revealing than the simple question of where someone is from.

“You can take away my passport, but you can´t take away my experience” or in other words, my passport or lack thereof doesn´t define my experience as a local somewhere. It does not take away the fact that I feel connected to these people. It doesn´t mean I am any less of a local than those who do have a passport to ´prove´ they are from someplace.

One of the biggest myths about nationalities is going back, and I agree. “I go to Accra every year but I can´t go back to Ghana. […] That country doesn´t exist anymore. We can never go back to a place and find it exactly where we left it. Something, somewhere will always have changed. “ No place can ever be the same as it once was. Times change, people change, rituals change… This is one of the hardest things to accept after having lived abroad. That every place you will go ´back´ to, you will only be chasing memories that are no longer there.

This might be one of the most relatable TED talks I have seen yet. It is beautiful and inspiring and to all of those that don´t relate to one ´ nationality´ or place, this is a must watch.

* Watch video

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