By: Brad Riaze
Seventeen years ago I moved to the U.S. — a nation that I’ve now grown accustomed to. In June, however, I can finally say that I’m returning to my home country: Seychelles. I’m ready to return even if my home no longer recognizes me.
The little boy that left the island nearly two decades ago is completely different than the almost 20-something student at Meramec that I am now. Despite the fact that I’ve lived here for most of my life, I’ve struggled with who I am.
It’s hard explaining the weird middle ground that is my identity because most people I know don’t really have that problem. That’s not their experience. So, what exactly is an identity? Why is it a struggle for me to find mine and why am I so excited to go back?
In my experience, where you’re born is who you are. Really, it’s as simple as that. You are born in a country that you most likely hold pride for and are thus surrounded by people who share that characteristic with you. It becomes part of your character — your disposition.
There’s a commonality between you and the people of your nation and that commonality can be a very strong thing. I have never really experienced that feeling. Not because I dislike this country, but because my pride is tied to a place thousands of miles away.
Seychelles is a small, tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean that most people have never heard of. An all granite paradise full of half-French, half-African speaking individuals. That’s Seychelles. That’s where all my family members are at, but also where my experiences should have been — my first time riding a bike, my first kiss, my first time getting grounded.
It’s bittersweet because as much as I’d like Seychelles to claim all of these memories, it just can’t. Because of family issues, these experiences didn’t happen there, they happened here. The question is, if I can’t identify myself as American and I can’t really identify myself as Seychellois, then who am I?
To say that I’ve struggled with this question would be an understatement. All of us do because we’re all trying to figure out who we are. That’s life and really at the end of the day we’re all just kind of winging it.
What I’ve come to realize as my first year of college comes to a close, is that I’m still young and should embrace life. I should cherish the fact that the country I came to is one of the greatest on earth. I should embrace the fact that after 17 years I finally have my U.S. residency and can legally go back to the country I was born in. Some people never get that opportunity. I should take pride in the fact that my life is so confusing and just treat it as an interesting quality of myself.
For the longest time I let the phrase “Who am I?” weigh me down. I was drowning in questions that had no answers when really these are all aspects of what make me, me. Going back to Seychelles in June is just another piece that I can add to the puzzle.