“If you were born in one place, grew up in another, but now live somewhere completely different, where are you from? Tricky one. Perhaps, a better question is not where are you from, but where do you feel at home?”. I rarely see adverts that make me stop and think, but this HSBC billboard immediately caught my attention. With the current state of politics worldwide, not to mention Brexit here in the UK, we’re all feeling a lot more unsettled and unsure about our futures. This leads us to question ourselves, where we feel at home, and where we belong. If we’ve lived somewhere for decades, but now fear being outcasted by communities we’ve belonged to for years, where we belong and where we feel at home can be tricky questions to answer.
Where was I born? Where do I currently live? Where do I think of as home? What does home feel like to me? The complexities of where we’re from and where we belong go beyond the roof over our heads. Most of us think of home as the house we grew up in, where our fondest childhood memories are, the first area we lived in. It just isn’t as simple as that anymore. For those that are bilingual and span multiple cultures and nationalities, who have family from all different corners of our vast world, home can mean many different things. As the world develops and we become more international, a lot of us choose to vacate our mother countries and move abroad. The notion of home changes as we grow, making it harder to pin down and define.
“Where are you from?” is a loaded question. If you have the slightest hint of an accent, or have a mixed ethnicity, this is most likely something you’ve been asked before. This seemingly innocent query has deeper implications about how we perceive race, identity, and more importantly it unmasks unspoken biases and stereotypes. How has “where are you from?” become such a topic of debate? It labels the person in question as something else, and makes those on the receiving end feel as if they don’t belong. It implies that to live somewhere you must look and speak a certain way, further reinforcing ideals that are no longer relevant in the 21st century.
The need to belong is part of who we are, its basic human instinct. We all want to be somewhere where we feel understood and supported. As we go through life, many of us feel a sense of not fitting in. Finding a sense of community and belonging is crucial. How will you ever be sure that you truly belong? If you feel like you’re having a hard time fitting in, that you don’t belong, that you don’t have a sense of home, know that you’re not alone. At some point in life, most of us experience feeling this way. If you’re currently feeling that desperate need to belong, don’t fret – maybe you just haven’t found your place in the world yet.
Home is one of those concepts you think is straightforward but gets more complicated the deeper you think about it. Home is where you feel connected, secure, and loved. Somewhere in the world and beyond, there will be a place that’s just right for you. A place that feels like home. It’s easy to forget that we aren’t defined by where we’re from, so one of the most rewarding things you can do is build a home for yourself. Fill it with anything and everything you want, wherever you wish. Home is what you make it.
Written by J’Nae Phillips