Identity: Am I English?
Recently I have been thinking about who I am and what it means to claim that I’m English. I’ve always felt English, and growing up I was taught to be proud of it because of all the apparent “wonderful” things “we” have done for the world like abolish slavery and fight against the Nazi party in world war 2, but realistically what has any of that got to do with me? I wasn’t even alive when them things happened. Should I be proud to be English because of the NHS? It’s a great thing but again, I had nothing to do with that. “We” won the world cup? What do they mean by we? because 11 very old men won the world cup a very long time ago, and to say that I had anything to do with that just because I was born in the same borders as them seems ridiculous.
What does it mean to be English? Am I English because I was born just a few miles south of the Scottish border? The border that I would have been born a few miles North of it had it been a few centuries ago. How many different names has the area I was born in been called? Before English it was called Brittonic and before that it was ruled by a tribe called the Votadini, I don’t think anyone knows what it was called before then because the history is written by romans. I don’t feel anymore English as I do Brittonic or Votadini. Being English has just become like a meaningless box I tick when filling out forms. As I’ve got older, the meaning of being English has kind of faded for me. I could be descended from any of the invaders over the past 2000 years so I don’t even have a claim to this land, do I? I’m clearly European, but I could easily be descended from the Italians, the Scandinavians or the French, all of whom invaded successfully and took over.
I would like to say I’m blessed to be English. It has many perks being born in such a rich country, but I don’t really feel connected to the idea of being English anymore, or proud to be it. It’s just a word on a form like my gender, my date of birth or my religious beliefs. I don’t mean this to sound pessimistic or cynical by the way, it’s just an observation I’ve made recently.
Who’s language is this I’m speaking? Is this where my home is? Is this where I can excel or am I lost in a foreign land and don’t even know it because of selfish ancestors who chose greed over their homelands? Am I evolved enough to be here? can thousands of years of evolution and adaption to an environment be changed over a few hundred years in a new one?
I sometimes think about moving somewhere else, but where? Maybe America? I don’t think I could burden the native Americans like that though by moving to the only place they have as a home, what if I wasn’t welcome? and it feels the same way about Australia with the aborigines, or with China, Russia, Japan, Iceland. I don’t think I could do it, but at the same time, if everyone was to just stay in the place they were born then nobody would ever move, they would never learn or grow, they would become paralyzed. It would be shit wouldn’t it? I don’t have the money to move anyway, even if I wanted to, so England and in particular North East England is where I’ll have to stay, despite the fact I don’t know if I’m even from here, if this place will ever be my home or if I’ll ever feel English the way I used to.