My favourite books tend to be coming-of-age stories. Western culture is obsessed with the portrayal of self-realisation. With the exact moment, we finally reach a sense of self that makes everything right, that unlocks the ultimate goal in our lives: happiness. It’s always through intermediaries, however. A job created out of one’s passion, the perfect romantic relationship, a rekindling with family…
I’m so far away from others. At least, that’s how I feel. Like I’m watching the world spinning and I’m out of sync and nothing I do connects me with the beat.
I grew up shielded. I guess it all goes back to my experience with an incubator as a new-born that was expected not to make it. But it never left. People run around and strive for things that I never cared for. Their hearts long and beat faster for stuff that does not resonate with me.
And in my circles, what I love is usually disdained by others.
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WHO am I?
There are simple answers: I’m a French cis girl, a Southerner with a strong accent. I smile a lot and get reprimanded for it by my teachers. I love dogs and cats. I hate exercising. I’m diabetic. I have coeliac disease and I’m allergic to dairy products. Yes, I’m extremely talkative. I love books but my soul craves mostly for (listening to) music. I’m still a student, despite being 25. I’m an anxious mess with extremely low self-esteem.
To me, these characteristics make no sense.
I was raised in France and surely enough that shaped me. But ever since I taught myself English, everything I have ever consumed was through that language. I even woke up from post-surgery anaesthesia speaking English. It’s the language I use to think, the one I use to learn everything that I’m passionate about, the one I put subtitles in.
But my mother’s family is Spanish and even though I’m not fluent in it —my comprehension / writing skills are high but English comes to my mind more easily when it comes to talking—, I feel called by that part of my lineage. It’s a weird feeling, it’s almost invalid to me. But the ease I experience in learning Spanish, how intrinsically right it felt to visit the country when we toured it back when I was in high-school… I have this connexion with it and yet… neither my appearance nor my name nor my language skills can valid this feeling of belonging somehow.
And then, there are all the things I love learning about. Reading and watching and consuming everything I can about the Victorian era as if my soul needed it.
Since 2009, I watch Asians tv shows. A decade of consuming a type of content on a daily basis, learning the languages, cultural knowledge, another apprehension of the world…
Who I am is a mixture of it all. I am every book I have read and every song I have listened to, cried to, related to. I am every emotion I’ve ever felt and every hardship I’ve had to overcome. The Laurie I was before my diabetes diagnosis surely was radically different than the one I am today, as a chronically ill person who had to experience firsthand what ableism is, who had to grow up quicker than other teens because she had to put needles in her body to get the right to eat.
It feels weird to me to say: I’m French. And yet, it is true. Being French explains how limited my knowledge of the world is, it frames the range of cultural references I have by having been brought up as such. But ever since I was old enough to learn by myself… It doesn’t relate to me. It’s not enough. I don’t want to be restricted by the type of content that reaches the shores of the country I live in…
Identity has no simple answer and it definitely does not have administrative borders.
On the other hand, realising that some people have not grown up with the same landscapes that I was surrounded by, overwhelms me. The fact that they have not watched breathtaking sunsets in our red earth paradise or spent neverending evenings on their patio when it’s 30°C at 10pm and the cicadas are still singing.
But I guess Identity could easily be mistaken for Home…