Tomorrow is the 26th of January – Australia Day 2016. It is also the day that I will attend my ceremony to become a dual citizen of both the United States and Australia.
When I sat the Australian citizenship test a few months back, I definitely walked out feeling weird. I was also weirded out that I was weirded out. I hadn’t prepared myself for that type of emotion. People kept asking me why I felt that way, but I couldn’t explain it.
Leading up to this day, everyone kept asking me if I was excited. Although I answered with “yes”, I kind of wasn’t. I just said yes because I thought that was what I should be feeling. I was definitely excited to see my father who was flying in for the ceremony. I was excited that I didn’t have to worry about renewing my visa- this step was permanent. But the gift of a dual citizen hasn’t set in. I’m not even sure what that means and how I’m supposed to feel.
How is two countries splitting ownership of me supposed to feel?
I also feel weird that I’ll be sharing the day with others who have much better stories to tell, bigger reasons to be there, and more to celebrate. Their faces will reinforce my opinion about borders and fences. I don’t think that what you can do, your quality of life or what kind of experience you can have should be limited to where you were born.
I’m sure border and immigration logistics are much more complicated than that, but in my heart, that is how I feel. I guess the knock to be president or prime minister will not be coming any time soon. I do know that tomorrow will remind me of how lucky I really am –
that this decision was not a consequence of my circumstances, rather a contribution.
I think it is weirding me out because living in Australia is no longer a novelty to me anymore. I don’t wake up every day and get all giddy walking around my apartment thinking about how amazing it is that not only am I in a different country but also live here. I just wake up. Sometimes I yell at the birds for being too loud too early, but that’s about it.
Australia is just where I live. But it also means that the United States (where a good majority of my loved ones are) is not where I live. It means that the majority of my most recent memories involve my life in Australia and less and less involve my life in America. Maybe I was weirded out because living here has become so normal. It is the norm and that is weird.
But lucky for me, that “weirdness” of getting my dual citizenship is fading. I remind myself of how I got here, and why I stay here. It’s not that Australia is the most amazing place to live (although, it is pretty awesome in so many ways), or that America is so bad or that everywhere else is, too. It just ended up being a good fit for me. I think it could have gone either way, too, so I consider myself lucky that fate lined up all my ducks.
So to answer everyone’s questions, I don’t feel excited, I feel proud. I have this once a day journal. It has a new question for me to respond to each day. A few days back the question was,
“What is your favorite thing about yourself?” I answered with brave.
I suppose that my story of bravery may not compare to the story of the person sitting next to me tomorrow, but I don’t think that bravery can be measured like that. Getting my citizenship is a nice little piece of paper to remind me that most things that I cherish in my life have happened in moments that required me to be brave, to take a chance, to go against the grain and to accept that failure goes hand and hand with success.
I shiver to think that maybe I would have missed out on all of this adventure if I hadn’t been brave. Now that would be weird!