I was 18 years old when a friend of mine asked me this question: ‘Why don’t you tell people you’re Turkish Cypriot’?
In answer to my friend’s question however, my answer was very simple: ‘When you tell people what you are, do you say you’re Greek Cypriot?’
Despite being just 18 years old this was the very beginning of the exploration of my own identity, which in fact began many years later. However, it seems even then I knew which part was more important and which part I wanted to put more emphasis on. I’m not TURKISH Cypriot, I’m Turkish CYPRIOT. And he’s certainly not Greek Cypriot but Greek CYPRIOT.
On most of our Republic of Cyprus ID cards, it simply says Cypriot. So what’s the problem? If an official document of the Republic of Cyprus is declaring that we’re simply Cypriot and neither Greek nor Turkish Cypriot, why is it so important for some of us as individuals to declare that we’re either one or the other?
In such a fluid world and an even more fluid European Union, where people are constantly moving from one country to the next, how significant has a sense of identity become to us?
In Cyprus, why are we all so obsessed with it and are we right to be obsessed by it? Aren’t we all just Cypriots after all?
I can’t answer this question for anyone else, but I know that I’m obsessed with it (for the moment at least). And despite my claim of simply being Cypriot there’s so much more to it than that and we all know it.
The search for identity – or at least the definition of our individual identity – is very much linked to the inherent desire to belong. We all want somewhere to belong, a place where we feel most comfortable most ‘at home’.
But what if that sense of belonging cannot be achieved in the expected conventional way? Perhaps as a Turkish Cypriot I’m expected to feel that sense of belonging within the Turkish Cypriot community. However, I’m a Turkish Cypriot of Potamia, a mixed village in south Cyprus.
How can I feel a sense of belonging with a community I never knew?
- Hazy days, clear minds
- The other within ourselves