A Sense Of Belonging

I hesitate to put this under the ‘Ramadan Diaries’ title, because that would mean acknowledging the long gap since I last posted! (yikes) Aaaaanyways, I have overcome my lazine-*cough* busy-ness to write what’s been on my mind. Also, please forgive me for the scrawly handwriting.

I’ve always been envious of those who can lay claim to the fact that they grew up in one place, around the same people; a place that holds memories and sentiment for them. How comfortable they must feel in their surroundings, how secure. How wonderful it must be to conjure up people who’ve known them their whole lives.

Having lived in a number different places growing up, I’d never considered myself ‘from’ anywhere. An age old tale: an expatriate Pakistan family living in the west for work or study, moving to wherever duty called. This meant little time for getting fully at ease, let alone setting down roots.

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I can remember my siblings and I as children, trying to blend in, while simultaneously being ourselves. Being raised in a predominantly desi household, in a rather desi fashion meant there was a clash of values/behaviours on the social front. Despite being born there, growing up in a country not yet as multicultural as say, the UK or US, a brown face among a sea of white (forgive the clichéd phrase here :p), was an oddity. No matter how capable or how equal in all other fields you may have been to your peers, you still got the hesitant, blank smile and a “Where are you from?”, from adults. (Things have most likely changed now, but this was my childhood.) I stuck with the people that got to know me and simply the people that got me.

Having moved back to Pakistan, I can hide in a sea of desi-ness; wear the local garb, do what everyone else is doing. Don’t want to stand out, and you simply won’t. But again, having been reared with a different outlook and surrounding, makes me feel like a…. not exactly a square peg in a round hole, but maybe an oval peg? Fitting, but not quite. Again, one can’t help but stick to the one’s who understand. In Pakistan, even, I hesitate to open my mouth, as my speech or accent leads to an inevitable, narrow-eyed, suspicious “Where are you from?”.

I know I’m speaking of belonging in a vague sense, or maybe even I’m confusing it with attachment.

I should let myself believe, with heart and soul, that belonging is not something to be sought in people and places, but rather something a person finds with contentment in themselves.

And that’s an issue I’m still working on. (Getting there. I think.*nervous laugh*)

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Author: emphadiate

Med student, chai lover, avid reader. Daydreamer extraordinaire. Slightly imbalanced.

20 thoughts on “A Sense Of Belonging”

  1. You are perpetually in a state of monachopsis 😀 and so beautifully written. Although I never fully understood your struggle to belong somewhere before, but I think I kinda do now. In a way. And I must admit, it’s rather disconcerting but I guess it gets better. *hug*

  2. I spent my whole life in the west in the U.S., mostly the Pacific Northwest. Then eight years ago I moved to Indiana in the Midwest. People are people in some ways, from the good to the bad. But in the town I lived, most of the people grew up there. fifty-year-old guy says to me about this other guy, we went to high school together. People weren’t rude to me, but I was always “not from here.” I wasn’t “one of them.” Minor compared to what you experienced.

  3. This actually speaks what I have tried for ages to verbalise, I get the struggle, but I think you have it a lot easier adjusting back to the ‘origin’. I still feel like a bit of an imposter, but I guess we’re blessed in a way where we will never fit in, but everywhere is home. You said it so well!

  4. In the states I wrote my college essay about this. Although I grew up in the same area I never fit in for the same reasons. MsA you captured exactly how I feel about it now.

  5. This quite relatable, you know.
    As an expat in another country, you always lack this feeling of belonging. You never entirely fit in with the people in either of the nations…

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