Some home truths
It is inevitable that having grown up in south Cyprus, surrounded mainly by Greek Cypriots and my Turkish Cypriot family members, I am more comfortable around Greek Cypriots.
I’ve mentioned this on a number of occasions. However sometimes I feel it’s important to revisit certain topics as reactions and feelings may change over time.
This conclusion is based on language, as I am a Greek speaker, but it’s also not based on language, as I’ve come face to face with a lot of reactions over the years regardless of what language I speak, some welcoming and some altogether strange.
I’ve known the customs and traditions of Greek Cypriots all my life, much of my childhood was also spent at Greek Cypriot weddings, as opposed to Turkish Cypriot ones. To this day, I have still never been to a Turkish Cypriot wedding.
I’ve worked in Greek, loved in Greek and complained in Greek. I’ve done all these things in a language which may be perceived by some, as a language which should not naturally be the more comfortable language for me. In recent years, I have come to love Turkish and the Turkish Cypriot dialect once more, after years of having it locked away in a corner of my mind, allowing it to waste away. But truthfully, I still express myself better in English and Greek.
I realised recently though that I have become much more comfortable, maybe even blasé, about declaring being a Turkish Cypriot to Greek Cypriots. Sometimes it seems to me that the reaction I evoke from Turkish Cypriots is the more unexpected reaction though, and most especially from the younger generation.
The more typical reaction is one of disbelief. Now how do I convince you that I’m part of this community (apparently)? Should I bother convincing you? These are just some of the questions that flow through my mind during this type of conversation.
The truth is I’m not a part of this community; I’m a part of the Turkish Cypriot community of Potamia.
Acceptance in the end doesn’t complete a person or a person’s identity. In my case, it simply makes me realise how essential it has become for me to overcome the need to be accepted by all.
- A theory of evolution
- Coming face to face with identity
Thank you, Natalie, for such honesty and openness. Perhaps our identity is not contained merely in our ancestry or our present cultural abilities but is constituted by the life project or “script” that we commit ourselves to. It’s more about the future we intend than the past we represent. It’s not fixed by history but by a sense of vision about the future. Thanks for stimulating my thinking on this.
Hi Bill, thank you for your comments as always 🙂
Identity is definitely a funny thing. It might be a social construct but it can be also of our own making.
I empathise and agree with Nathalie when she says acceptance in the end does not complete a person or a person’s identity. Our identity is in our ancestry, in our personal experiences in our own self-concept and in the identity we wish to project or the acceptance or rejection of the group with whom we wish to belong or not belong. It is also in the identity other communities, groups or individuals, project upon us. All these factors interlink and inter-react to give us our identity, which is never static. It is fluid. There are times when one factor is projected more than another depending on how vulnerable or reactive one factor of our identity is when set-up against another factor. I agree that identity is not fixed in history but neither is it fixed by a sense of vision about the future. It is what it is at each specific moment and it evolves constantly in each individual’s future with each experience and each need.
Dear Helen precisely: identity is fluid. I have certainly felt that and felt my own identity changing over the years.