Miniature of man with briefcase standing on the map of the world

My not-even-quarter-life crisis

Originally published in Edition 6, 2018: Unfurl.

A quick disclaimer to premise this discussion: I personally don’t get offended when anyone asks me the question, “Where are you from?”

 

Nevertheless, when people do ask, I genuinely don’t know how to respond. To most, my pronunciation of words doesn’t exactly adhere to the Australian standard, nor to that of any distinguishable country. “It’s a bit of a mutt-like accent,” I usually respond when people comment.

 

To the highly-trained ear, however, the way I speak is most similar to that of an international school alum. You could describe it as American… but not quite. In turn, this might also suggest that I’ve lived a more ‘international’ life than the average person. Such an assumption wouldn’t be totally ungrounded, as I have indeed lived in multiple countries and cities over the last 20 odd years.

 

Australia has been my main place of residency for the last eight-ish years now. I moved here at the beginning of year 7 from South Korea. Strangely enough though, I wouldn’t call the place my home. Don’t get me wrong – there’s definitely a special affinity for the country, and I’d love to eventually lay down my roots here, too. Recently, it’s even gained the grand title of ‘Country I’ve Lived In The Longest’.

 

At the end of the day, the problem seems to lie in the fact that I sound different, and that I grew up with different cultural references. While my Australian fellows have grown up with fairy-bread, vegemite and butter on Cruskits, Zooper Doopers, Bunnings sausages and handball, I’m not able to relate. Even if you asked me, I wouldn’t be able to name half as many iconic memories from my own childhood.

 

You’d think that maybe in Korea, I’d do a better job of connecting with my friends over such things, but it’s even less so the case there than it is here in Australia. I don’t really speak with an accent; instead, it’s the way I look, think and behave that makes me stick out like a sore thumb. Individuality isn’t promoted in the same way in Korean society as it is in its Western counterparts: my under-cut hair and tanned skin have no place there.  

 

Being considered unconventional in both countries, I’m left without a people or a home to call ‘mine’. The perpetual limbo I find myself in sometimes leaves me feeling insecure, but it’s also incredibly freeing to know that I’m not bound to a single culture’s set of social mores that often end up dividing a nation.

 

Wherever I go, there’ll be those who embrace diversity, and those who fear it. Diversity enriches society, and, in my opinion, rejecting it only generates regressive ideals and misunderstandings.

 

There’s no real point to any of what you’ve read. If anything, this confession was written in the hopes that it might offer some solace to those who might relate.

 

#globalcitizen #blessed #hatersgonnahate