I would like to formerly inaugurate this blog by talking about a very important topic that a lot of us expats may understand. It is what I have been calling "nationality limbo". I searched the internet and couldn't find anything related so I may have created this term :D. Anyways, as mentioned on my bio, I was born in Brazil. If you ever ask me where I am from I would promptly say "I am Brazilian". However, after living outside of the country for so long, that meaning started to fade. Yes, I was born there and I will still be giving people the same answer when asked, but as time passes you realize that you no longer posses all the qualities that make you identify as a true Brazilian. Below are a few of the traits that I can think of:
*You speak your original language but you start forgetting and/or stumbling with certain words. Also, your thoughts are made of a mixture of the different languages you deal with.
*You still love your birth country's food but you don't eat it on a day to day basis, or, if you are like me, you don't know how to cook a lot of its specialties.
*You have friends from your home country but you are also friends with people from different parts of the world, in which you share unique experiences.
*The way you dress and overall style has changed a lot, up until the point that when you go back to your country people sometimes mistaken you by a foreigner.
*You start having an outlook on your country as an outsider rather than someone who is inserted there, and that involves all sorts of topics including politics, economics, culture, etc
When you get to this point where you identify with these characteristics, as well as many others that I haven't mentioned here (and feel free to share your experience ;), you start entering the nationality limbo: it is when you start identifying less with your origin country, and more with the country you are living in or even many other cultures combined.
This situation can be very frustrating and it is a confusing spot to be in. That is because when you go back to your birth country you start feeling out of place and you begin realizing how different you have become compared to almost everyone around you. At the same time, you also don't exactly fit perfectly within your expat country as you may not identify with 100% of its people's behavior or communication style, you may still have an accent, and you may always be seen as a foreigner by the overall society.
The nationality limbo is one of the perks of living overseas. It is also a situation that is really hard to get out of - even if you decide to go back to your birth country. By then, your mind has changed in a way that you haven't imagined, and you may never be able to adapt back to your country's customs, hence be a typical/true Brazilian (in my case) again. Some of you may think that you should adapt 100% to your expat nation instead and be as close as possible to being seen as one of them, but do you really want to lose all those unique personality traits acquired from your country that makes you so special?
I am not saying that being in the nationality limbo is all bad. I understand that you may often feel out of place, but you still have a group of people who will always understand your situation: those in the same position as you. It is also a beautiful thing to become a citizen of the world and be able to get along with many different nationalities and understand their social standpoints. In addition, the matters you start caring about develop into a whole different spectrum, in a much larger scale, and that's the true meaning of being international.
People that have never left their home country may still get a good portion of the knowledge that is out there in the world due to globalization, internet, etc. But you will probably be one step ahead in a sense that you may have lived through it and you can speak for experience.
Nonetheless, I am not saying that only those who necessarily lived in another country can experience the nationality limbo. Those who traveled, those who were raised within an international family or environment, and even those who just simply don't identify with its home country cultural aspects can still experience it as well.
In summary, the nationality limbo is not always a great place to be in, as you don't have the comfort and the security of always knowing who you are and where you belong. But the nationality limbo can be a route to self discovery, and if you know how to take advantage of it in the right way, you can become a real citizen of the world and this feature can take you far, including your career, when you are exploring new places, as well as in your personal and social life.
For more expat tips you can click here and you can also find me on the social media platforms below.