Monday, March 11, 2013


We've been studying identity and belonging a lot in one of my classes this semester, and one of the concepts we come across a lot is home as a component of your identity. Of course, the old saw of "where are you from?," so controversial in North America these days, came up early in the discussion. All the articles I've read on the topic seem desperate to define how and why people identify with a place, how they determine what represents home, and how it figures into their broader identity.

Frankly, I think the whole discussion is interesting, but the authors are way off base. In my mind, one of the most brilliant parts of the whole human experience is the inability to define something like that. Everyone defines home a little differently, and everyone has different values on home as a component of their identity. Exactly how that connection is formed will be different for everyone. I think that's awesome, because it means that every time I encounter someone there is always something new to learn and explore about them.

Personally, I identify as being from Toronto and Canada, and those two figure heavily into my identity. I also identify as being from Scarborough, Ontario, and North America, but those are far less prominent in my identity. My current house is my home, a connection which I feel much more strongly than I ever did at my last house, but I could not tell you why. Meanwhile, despite moving several times as a child, I can tell you exactly which house and neighbourhood I identify as being "from" (and it's not the one I lived in longest). I'm not entirely certain why I made that connection, but it is definitely there.

And despite my clear national connection with Canada, I happily switch my allegiance to England and Holland in international sporting events like the World Cup or the Euro in which Canada doesn't participate. Those two represent my heritage, and I'm proud of that despite never having lived in either.

I love that the home component of my identity can be so fluid, and so static at the same time. I know what home is and where I am from, but I can't say exactly why I feel that way, and there is no formula to break it down. On top of that, home will almost certainly change as I grow and move, and I can't wait to see where it evolves.

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