BST. British Standard Time.
There is something about the word British that makes me feel proud, and at the same time irritated. If you were to look at me, you would not think I was British. Namely because I am not white of skin and fair of hair – or just fair, for that matter.
You would probably change your mind once I opened my mouth.
I used to tell my colleagues that I grew up in Dubai. They took that to mean that I was FROM there, and would say things like, ‘oh you learned English pretty quickly‘, and ‘your accent is quite good‘ and ‘you sound distinctly Southern – who was your teacher?‘.
Well my teacher was my mother. She was born in Tooting, London. I was born there too. We are British, albeit very multicultural, so not English, just British. My accent is British because my parents are British, so even though we lived in another country, they maintained their British culture and passed it on to us. They didn’t design to do this intentionally – it just came about.
Do I get offended when people say these things to me? I used to. I was a bit green. I used to get indignant. Hey, I’m British, this is my country too.
I don’t always feel like it’s my country, especially when people tell me to ‘go back home’. How can I? This is home. This is my mother’s home too. My mother’s parents came from two different countries and so did my father’s parents.
So if I were to go ‘home’ you’d have to dissect my body into a million pieces and divide my cells according to which country they originated.. that would be messy.
I bloomed though, with the knowledge that I came from everywhere and nowhere. It made me stronger. It made me prouder of my heritage.
Some days I feel fiercely British, and proud of my country and its people and it’s polite manners. Other days I feel ashamed of its history and the way it colonised the world. Some days I love its people for their exceptional Britishness, and other days I despise them for their entitlement.
But as I grow I realise something – and that is not everyone is perfect. Every nation, culture, race has its flaws and it’s positive attributes. There is good in everyone and everything, and there is also bad.
It’s important to value who you are and where you came from – to BLOOM into what makes you, YOU. Most of the time you are who you are because of your family, heritage and culture. This is why I choose to embrace the good parts of being British, and how they define me, so I can feel proud to be so. I can also feel proud to be all the other cultures that I am, and how these have impacted my ‘Britishness’, enhancing it and helping me to bloom in the process.
Which aspects of your culture do you like? What do you dislike?