According to psychologist Erik Erikson, identity is the most important part of a person’s life, it is the knowledge of who you are as a person. Most people believe that your adolescent years are the years where you form a perception about yourself or your identity is a reflection of your job.
However, it is argued that identity is something that shifts and develops throughout life as people defy new difficulties and handle different experiences.
The Eight Stages, We All Go Through by Erikson states that when you feel left out of a certain group or feel as if you do not belong in a certain place, it’s likely that you are having a conflict of identity and role confusion. In short, you are going through an identity crisis.
This issue has increased in the young adults of our generation due to either doubting themselves or, just simply, being lost as to what comes next. The prime example of this would be Ana Muggo, a student in the UK questioning herself because of the judgements of others.“It is a Saturday morning, I just landed at Heathrow Airport after 15 hours of travelling from my home country, Pakistan. Airports have always fascinated me as it is the first thing you see when you land in a new country. The endless chaos at baggage claim or the late runners trying to make it to their flight in time, it is always the same story,” Ana explains.
However, for her, there is one more factor that remains constant and that is the question she fears the most: “’Where are you from?’ in a tone that usually changes once I show my British passport at the security check. I have had a dual nationality of both Pakistan and the United Kingdom, yet every time I enter London, I am asked the same question over and over again,” states Ana.
“Maybe it is because my accent is not as English or the colour of my skin is rather a little darker or simply because I do not fit the ideal image of the British community. Imagine arriving home and the first question that is asked makes you feel like an outsider in your own country,” Ana explains further.
The hard work and blood of our ancestors run through the history of this country and if you look back from a historical perspective you will learn that 400,000 Muslims served on the behalf of the British army in World War one and yet only 22% of the people know about this sacrifice.
According to Ana, her first year at the University of Westminster, she was often told that carrying a British passport does not necessarily mean you are a British. “In most cases when someone asks me where I am from and I say here, they usually say no originally, and then I have to explain myself for no further confusion.”The question here is not where she is from but why cannot she be both. Why is there a certain need to explain the whole story? London is known to be one of the most diverse city in the world with a percentage of only 44.9% being white British yet this country refuses to recognise you as a whole.
If this is not the case, then the next step that people past their judgment is on one’s religion, “I remember being told on multiple occasions that I am not Muslim enough because I drink or dress a certain way that goes against my religion,” Ana says. Every religion has its rules and regulations and the majority of the time the rules are broken. Though that does not mean that you point the finger at others and not yourself because that would just be hypocrisy.
According to Ana, this issue also remains in Pakistan: “If there is ever a time when I am sitting amongst people and defend the UK, I am told to go back to my country in rather a humorous manner to which I reply Pakistan is also my country.” How can someone find their own identity if they are told they do not belong here or there?
After speaking to Ana about her struggle with identity, I was forced to question my own. You are usually told you are what you do. A doctor, an engineer, a chef, but is this how someone identifies themselves? A chef spends their hours making food for other people, a doctor has to respond to a call even in the middle of the night, this is a role that we play, for money and for constancy. Status and wealth do not determine your identity, it determines your stability in life.
I am a person with an American accent, living the in the UK, but also calling Pakistan my home, caught between the two I sometimes find myself lost in terms of who I really am. Am I the person that people think of as an outsider or am I the person that people accept? Am I the person who is not Muslim enough or am I the person who is not British enough? Am I the person that is afraid to speak in front of a crowd or am I person that can make countless jokes with strangers?
Am I the person that works only a day before my deadline or am I person that wakes up at two hours before to go over my presentation? Who am I, really, is the question I ask myself, today and every day and until I find the answer I am looking for, I will often find myself stuck in the midst of a so-called identity crisis.
Featured Image by TeroVesalainen via Pixabay