The question hit me right in my stomach. Who am I? How do you define yourself? I got that question from STS and it really hit me.
I was literally braindead already after a challenging but meaningful day at work. I wish I could tell you more but I’m not allowed for obvious reasons.
So I drove home in my old VW Passat – the car that never dies. I think it will outlive me. It’s 25 years old and the A/C still works. No rust. Passes every yearly inspection. Looks like new. Has done ~900.000 miles. Looks like new inside. I guess the car assembly people did something right there. Want to buy my car? Please, take it.
So anyways… my phone started beeping. Annoying. Where I live you can still use your phone “as long as it’s not distracting” – very vague to say the least. Anyways #STS asked me “how do you call yourself?”. And my dead brain started using it’s reserve fuel. She basically asked me how I affiliate or identify myself. And I have no freaking clue to even remotely respond to it.
Im full with roots while in the same time being rootless. I live in a nordic country – everyone here takes me for granted as a native Swede. And yes I can live with that – after all I’m more integrated in the society than some actual 100% swedes are.
A while ago I did a DNA-test which turned my world a bit upside down. I asked relatives what they knew – not much to be honest. An interesting sidenote is that on my mothers side in the 14th century, they were registered as slave traders with the indigenous people called the Sami people. Their land is the Sapmi land which covers parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Those traders were called Birkarl, literally meaning they traded between the Birka cities in Scandinavia.
A very nice person did some deep digging into this, and it turns out I’m a direct decent of Sten Sture, a Swedish king during the 14th century. Which frankly is cool. I’m royal in a way.
The DNA-test was a bit surprising and that cake-o-gram you get when you do that showed no less than 11 origins in various percentages. It told me I’m Swedish, I share the same DNA-pool with the people who followed Moses on their way from Egypt to Israel, I’m 0,9% Finnish. I’m a bit German. I’m slavic from Belarus/Northern Ukraine. I’m a bit Arab. A considerable cake also stems from the Finno-Russian Karelia.
So – who the hell am I? Whenever I try to answer that question I choose to simplify it by just saying “Hey, I lived here and there and I know this and that”. And that is usually the end of the story.
I’m multi-lingual to an extent that I can listen to about a quarter of the worlds general nagging and talking behind my back – I could write a book just about that actually.
For the vast majority it’s supereasy – they can say that they are Polish, Chinese, Argentinian or Tanzanian. I can’t do that. I envy those people who can just state who they are without a doubt.
And in Israel it’s superduper important to state your exact origins somehow. Since it’s based on religion and then further geographical, cultural, and ethnical variances. It would have been so easy to just say that I’m a Palestinian Arab with Israeli citizenship. It would have been so easy to say that I’m some sort of Mizrahi. Or plainly saying that I’m Israeli.
I remember when I received a letter from the IDF where I had to state that I de jure and de facto is living abroad.
So no, I can’t answer that question, I can not put a label on myself saying I’m 50% XX and 50% XX. And this is when it gets really tricky. Depending on what relative, friend or neighbour – they expect that I give them a straight answer in line with their opinion, affiliation or sentiment. And I just can’t do that. It’s impossible. And sometimes these people meet even to discuss who I am.
It has turned into complete absurdum of who I am, what I label myself as and what religion I believe in. And don’t forget I also have to present an essay of my background.
Is this an identity crisis? No. I’m just a product of what happens when people interact, co-exist, split and moves from one location to another. It’s their crisis because they can’t define me. And it is a pain in the back for them. Not for me.
Do you want to know why? Because I really do not care whatsoever. I have my own family, we also have two cats. I just try to learn NOT to adopt to what people choose to label me as. That opinion can from now on stay with them. Because I’m so tired of this BS – we are all humans after all. And in the end we share the same faith – Greta Thunberg, the brave climate strike girl has already given us a time-limit before it’s too late. And then we will be equally affected by the climate. Then it doesn’t matter if you are from Israel, Sweden, Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, Egypt or any other country.
We will sinply perish and I will try to be a Mensch in the meantime.
If someonr asks me I’ll just say I’m Israeli and end of story.
Well – back to baking Rugelach now.