I’ve spent a vast majority of my life finding out who I am or what I should identify as and all of that stuff and frankly, it’s still quite the tough question for me personally. Frankly, I don’t know exactly what or who I am or who I want to be – the only thing I do know is that the question is quite hard and that not everyone has bad intentions when they ask where I’m from… but it gets quite frustrating and it stresses me out when I get asked that. Hence, I figured I’d talk a bit about it, especially as I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for ages now.
As some people may know from hearing me talk about it in private or on stream or from reading the rare post where I’d mention it, I’m Albanian – or at least, my parents are and I’ve been born and raised in Germany. Because of that circumstance, I’ve never really belonged in either my hometown or my parents home country. It was frustrating when I was treated as an outsider in both countries. I’d be the Albanian kid during school hours and the German kid during vacation. One of my older cousins would often ask me for money, saying that Germans have lots of it and Germans are generous. When I said that I didn’t have any (since I didn’t get an allowance), he’d say something along the lines of “Don’t be so stingy. You’re just like those Germans!” – And it hurts. Similarly, in Germany, there were times where people were just being racist without knowing it. There was one time where a teacher in elementary called me a certain word that’s considered a slur. Since I didn’t know what it meant, I didn’t say anything about it but I’m not sure if he would have seen any consequences because of it. Similarly, there were times where I’d be treated differently or punished for things even though I’d just defend myself against others. Instead of dealing with the bullies, one teacher called me into his office every single day and he’d scream at me, asking “why I’m not integrating myself”.
But when it’s beneficial for people, they treat you nicely and say that you’re a good example of someone who’s been integrated well, even though it’s not the case. When it’s about awards and money, some teachers would ask me to say things in Albanian for them and those committees and stuff to show how multicultural we are.
Fast forward, a lot of years, and I basically moved away into a big city with about 50,000 times the population of my hometown and I haven’t visited my distant relatives in ages. In this city, it doesn’t really matter where I’m from or who I am. People don’t usually care in day-to-day life. When asked where I’m from, I tend to answer that I’m “from here”. I don’t take pride in my hometown really because I know that it’s full of shit. Most of the nice elderly people that I talked to on a daily basis back then turned into bigots that rant on Facebook about those refugees in our hometown, and even when I lived there I didn’t feel too comfortable with being called the “exception” after they ranted about those “lazy Albanians that (…)” – insert any sort of insult towards foreigners in there. You get the drift. You’ve heard people like that. But hey, I’m the exception. Hooray. That’s not a compliment.
And well, the anonymity of the big city is certainly quite comforting for me personally but it still can happen that you get chatted up by someone and that they ask where you’re from… and they’re not satisfied until you tell them that you’re not German. “Where are you from?” – “From here.” – “No, where are you actually from?” – “I’m from here.” – “No, where are your parents from?” – “They’re from [insert hometown].” – No, where are your roots from?” – and so on. It’s probably not ill-willed or anything like that… but it has a very negative connotation to it, especially in these times. I probably don’t have to say anymore because you probably know what I mean. It’s like being analysed and then reduced to your genes and your heritage and all of that. It doesn’t matter who you are anymore… It’s more about who your parents were or maybe not even that. Maybe it’s suddenly more about the fact that you’re not German or that you don’t belong or something like that. I know that’s still probably not what most people mean but it feels like that and there was a “#vonhier” movement quite a while ago that showed me that I’m not the only one that feels that way.
What I’m trying to say is that I hate people… Especially those people that care too much about where you’re from. I mean, they don’t even care. Most of the interactions I had like that were with people that I forgot about the next day… ’cause it’s “small talk sucks ass” and not “small talk success”. And what’s worse is that most people won’t even understand why you’re upset at them, and I’ve talked to someone who literally is a refugee and who got really upset because it reminded them of how they’ve been persecuted in their home country. It’s frustrating when you tell people that you don’t want to talk about that subject and they just go on and on and on and won’t leave you alone until you smack them or until you leave or until you bend the knee and tell them that you’re not an ubermensch like them and that you’re just a lowly [insert race] or whatever. It’s not their intention to be asshats, but most people are asshats – and when you get upset at them, they’ll think it’s “just another [insert race] thing” and they’ll live on.
And typically, I don’t have to deal with those situations nowadays because of… heh, the pandemic. But uh, the university’s starting soon and there will be cases like that and I’m not looking forward to it – mostly because I can’t be arsed to and because I don’t know how to deal with it. I wanna socialise and make friends with people in my classes and stuff… And I want to actually get along with them but I have this feeling that I won’t be able to do it because interactions like that screwed me over and because I’m an anxious introvert – but people obviously won’t think so because “introverts are shy bla bla bla and all introverts are the same”.
Either way, over the past couple of months, I’ve been stressing over exams and classes and my future and all sorts of obligations and it hasn’t been fun at all… But in the end, I’ll get half a week of free time starting tomorrow. I’ll try to not worry too much about all of this stuff and I’ll try to get my posts out in time and maybe get to draw stuff. I think my main issue is that classes and exams basically stress me out a great deal – and they happen at home, in front of my desk. Meanwhile, the things I love (games, shows, streaming, and blogging) also happen at home, in front of my desk, and it just kind of exhausted me, so hopefully enjoying four days at my parents’ will bring the change of pace that I needed. We’ll see.