An Identity Crisis?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Warning! This is a long Blog post, so make a cuppa before you delve into this story.

Something significant happened this month. I have reached a momentous milestone in my life.

As some of you may know I was born and raised in Romania, and I moved to Canada as a teenager. It sometimes feels like it was a lifetime ago, and just as often is feels like it was yesterday. This month has marked the half-way point. I have now lived in Canada just as long as I have lived in Romania, and as of now, the balance tips the other way!

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that fact. And it has made me think. Am I no longer truly Romanian? Does one’s background fade if one is away for too long? Am I officially Canadian now? What makes one Canadian?

The truth is that even on my first visit back to Romania, which was only 2 years after I had left, I was told that I was different, that it was obvious that I no longer lived there. I cannot tell you how that statement hurt my feelings at the time. But at the same time I was happy, because that meant that I was adapting to my life abroad pretty well. At that age, all I wanted was to fit in, and I was desperately looking for that feeling of belonging. Over the years I have realized that fitting in is not the be all and end all. It is nice to be set apart by something, to be unique, but try telling that to my 18-year old self!

Canada is my home now, I met my husband here, I had my son here, we have built out home here, but does that mean I am a true Canadian? I decided to build a sort of a checklist to evaluate things.

What does it mean to be Canadian?

A love of Hockey?
I have to say that I get swept up in the hockey craze every year, it is after all the same principle as soccer, but on skates, with sticks and a lot more padding. I may not watch the games religiously, but we make it a family activity, and my son is obsessed with the sport, therefore, I give it a check in the box.

A love of Maple Syrup?
My uncle is a beekeeper in his spare time, so I grew up eating it with everything. But I kept an open mind, and these days, on my shelf, next to the never absent jar of honey now sits a can of maple syrup, and I like it just as much. So we have another check in the box.

A love of the outdoors?
I am a city girl. I grew up in Bucharest, we lived pretty centrally, and I love the hustle and bustle of the city. I am one of those people that do not mind having the sounds of cars honking and trams rattling by in the background. Living in Canada I have learned to appreciate the fresh air, the quiet, being able to sit on the balcony in the evening and hearing the loons fly by overhead. I have started looking for hiking trails, and love going away to a cottage on weekends. I may not have completely embraced the outdoors, but I think I am on the right track.  So another check!

In no way do I mean to say that the 3 above-named criteria are the only defining traits of Canadians. There are a lot of different aspects to being Canadian, one of the most important, to me at least, is an inquiring, open mind, a thirst for adventure, and a love of your surroundings.  

And what I have realized, is that while I am becoming more Canadian, I am still also embracing my own past and heritage more then ever before, and they are not mutually exclusive. 

So here's to another 18 years!


  1. Nice thoughts. I've moved away from Lithuania pretty much as a teenager as well, but I'm still moving around and who knows where in the end we will settle. For me home is very much about my husband and our girl. And eventhough passport-wise I do have another citizenship, I am not sure if I will ever connect with it the same way.

    1. I so agree Siga, home to me, is where my husband and son are, and I do hope that I will one day have the opportunity to live in another place as well, maybe a few places, that would be a great adventure!

  2. Such a great post. It is hard to explain how hard it is to concile your identity when you feel you are both and then at the same neither. Iam lucky because France is next door for us, we have French TV, we speak French at home, so it feels like a part of France has come with me...

    1. I can completely understand Nat, it's exactly that, you are both but at the same time neither. You are fortunate to have "home" so close. I feel really isolated here sometimes!

  3. I was born and raised in Canada. I really enjoyed reading your post. I'm glad you like living in our country. I have always been fascinated by how people can change countries. I don't think I would be strong enough ;-) but I probably would. In any case, I think that it must be a great experience!

    1. Hi Maryse, Canada has indeed been good to me. It has not always been an easy journey, but I am glad I made this step. It certainly is not for everyone, I can agree with that. Tough I am sure you would be strong enough ;-)