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About

I was born in the Middle East. I grew up in the Middle East. I hold a Middle Eastern passport and I speak the Middle Eastern language. My parents are both from the Middle East and their families as well. I, however, do not consider myself a Middle Eastern. To be part of something, one must belong to it. I, sadly, do not belong.

Call it unpatriotic, insanity, or rebellion. I see no point in labeling me to a piece of land. A piece of land that some foreigner decided to idly conquer on a map. I cannot call myself an Arab, simply because I speak the language and hold the papers. Papers in the end are nothing but that, papers. I cannot call myself an Arab, for there is nothing Arab about my manner. I walk around all day trying to mimic the lives of Westerners. People that share very little of what I should believe in. People that know nothing of my religion, my heritage, my culture, and my background. People that when asked to point at a map, would fail to tell me where I come from. No. I am not calling all Westerners ignorant, because that would mean I am doing exactly what they do to me, I am generalizing. I am not a Westerner. Just because I know about their history, heritage, background and language does not mean I belong.

We are a generation of homeless souls, treading along uncharted territories. Our territories are intangible. We are not the children of the world; we do not have the audacity to become the children of the revolution. We are just children. Children with hearts terrified of leaving our playgrounds. We are children fastened to a fast world that we can’t seem to compete in. We are children that simply cannot seem to grow up. Our identities seem to be wasted before they become defined.

When asked who I am, the typical response would be:

“Suad Shamma”

When faced with the question again, I, of course, would give more details:

“I am 24 years old, I grew up here, I was born there, I went to AUS, I studied Communications…”

And the list goes on.

This has sadly become our identity. These mindless, benign, unnecessary details define me. What about it defines me? Where in this does my heritage come in? How does this explain who I am? These are merely a series of coincidences that I have no control over. Furthermore, what little choices I do have, are no choices of my own. I simply am what circumstances have made me. Is my identity based on circumstances alone then?  When probed further, I may say:

“I listen to The Beatles, I like to watch Friends, I read Shakespeare, and I enjoy dancing.”

These are the choices I make. Notice how the media is directly involved in all of them. Notice how it’s all Western media. Notice how none of this is Middle Eastern. Notice how I can’t call myself a Middle Eastern yet. Now, perhaps if I had said I listened to some renowned Arabic singer, or I read some famous Arabic book, maybe if I said I read the Quran. Maybe then I’d be an Arab. Now, I sadly cannot say I watch Arabic movies and call myself a true Middle Easterner, since lately, all of the Arabic media seems to be heavily borrowed from the Western Media. Our newspapers were copies of the prevailing English copies, our radios were mere imitations of the German Radio programs, and our TV shows are now mostly nothing but Arabic copies of Western shows. Not only does the story line mimic the Westerners, but the values and the way it is shot and revealed to the audience is very Western. Which is surprising enough because Arabs are the ones with the ancient traditions of story telling.

You know what the irony of all of this is? Although most of our lives, most of my life, I try to be nothing but a Westerner, an American to be precise, yet the view that Americans have of me is revolting. I don’t understand why I strive to be something that a) I will never be and b) I am not wanted to be. I want to identify with the American teenager and with the American dream because it seems to be a dream that works for many. I clearly am willing to throw away everything my ancestors fought for to ‘fit in’. To fit into a society that does nothing but reject me. That is why I believe that I do not belong. That I will never belong. I will never belong because I insist on belonging in a world that clearly does not want me to be there. I went to an American school. I listen to American music. I read American literature. I speak English with an American accent. I watch American movies. I even dress American. Yet, I honestly do not want to be American. I clearly am very confused. I don’t think a thousand words does the question of my identity any justice. I think I have spent the past 24 years of my life fighting for an identity that I have no clear image of.

Quite honestly, I started this with a clear image of what I was going to write. I was going to say that having an identity is quite pointless and unnecessary. However, I have come to realize that it is impossible to not have an identity. Everything I say or do defines my identity. I was going to say that globalization is inevitable, and that we will eventually all become one. However, I find that idea repulsive now. We have become a world of followers, even our leaders are followers. And all I seem to be able to do is blame people for our lack of individuality and identity. It is no fault but my own that I have an identity crisis to start with. It is no fault but our own that we are going through a generation of lost souls. For a thing to be lost, it must be forgotten. And we have forgotten what it is to be Arab.

Who am I?

I am not a Middle Eastern and I am not proud.

Discussion

26 thoughts on “About

  1. A very moving, thought provoking and eloquent piece of writing. Your identity crises is familiar. All I can say is: stick to your feelings and go with the flow, keep writing.

    Posted by Samir | February 4, 2012, 00:11
  2. Thank you Samir and I appreciate the vote of confidence.

    Posted by suadshamma | February 4, 2012, 00:23
  3. I agree with everything you said big sister!! xD

    Posted by Dimah S | February 4, 2012, 11:53
  4. We’ve nominated your blog for the Kreativ Blogger Award because we enjoy reading it. Check our site for the details and keep up the great work.

    Posted by Samir | February 21, 2012, 18:41
  5. Thanks so much for coming by my blog. I wil be back to read more of your posts.

    Posted by Janet | February 21, 2012, 20:43
  6. Suad, please don’t think that all Westerners would reject you. I think media has done both sides of the world wrong by perpetuating the negative stereotypes. I have lived overseas a lot in my life and mingled with different cultures, and the one conclusion I can come to is that we are all the same. We all have hopes, dreams…identity crises. We all have day-to-day lives. Some aspects of our cultures may set us apart but they should not divide us. Hang in there, and you will find yourself and be able to accept yourself for who you are, regardless of where you were born and where or how you grew up. You come across to me as a beautiful, thoughtful person and that inside person is really all that matters.

    Posted by Jeannette Monahan | February 24, 2012, 18:18
    • Thank you Jeannette for your wonderful comment, and I do agree that the media has a way of distorting people’s views and creating stereotypes (be it negative or positive).

      I’ve lived in England for a bit as well, and through that experience, was able to understand myself a little better. I try to make no judgments and I hate creating labels and categories for people. As you said, we are all the same. We just come from different places. I just wish more people realised that =)

      Posted by smshamma | February 24, 2012, 18:31
  7. I don’t ordinarily comment but I gotta say appreciate it for the post on this one : D.

    Posted by Lloyd Stahmer | March 29, 2012, 04:09
  8. I consider something genuinely interesting about your weblog so I saved to favorites .

    Posted by magnesium | April 17, 2012, 21:54
  9. My first read and post ever, of any blog.

    I live in New York. Currently, on a project work for a Govt company in Abu Dhabi. Its a new environment and my quest on finding the intricacies about ‘Hijab’ took me to this incredible blogging.The purity of thought, genuineness and the innocence was absolutely touching. Best part, I do share/relate to similar mindset.

    Started with learning about Hijab, I can assure you it went way beyond that. Look forward to more reading.
    Way to go, Suad.

    Posted by VJ | April 25, 2012, 19:55
    • Hello, thank you so much for your comment.

      It really means the world to me to know that I am reaching out in whatever small way I can. I am especially honoured to have been your first read and post ever.

      I am glad you liked it, and please, if you have any questions, or would just like a chat about anything related to our culture and region, I would be more than happy to help. I am in no way an expert on the matter, but I don’t mind sharing my two cents in any case! =)

      Posted by smshamma | April 25, 2012, 22:54
      • Pleasure is all mine, Suad.

        Tell you what, i am going to take you up on that offer :). Would love to know more about the culture and this region. Its quite fascinating. Everyone i met have been extremely helpful.

        Way cool that we can chat here in wordpress. I do have gmail as well, if that helps.

        Posted by VJ | April 26, 2012, 07:58
  10. Very interesting perspective on things.

    Posted by nootropic | April 29, 2012, 21:12
  11. This article has inspired me to carry on working on my own blog

    Posted by noopept | May 10, 2012, 23:59
  12. Very insightful. Will definitely have a look through your blog if it’s anything as good as this.

    Posted by idebenone | May 24, 2012, 07:15
  13. Very nice. I actually had a good time reading it, keep up the writing.

    Posted by regim hotelier craiova | June 6, 2012, 07:08
  14. Hello, this article was extremely moving, particularly because I was just thinking about this issue last Thursday. It’s good to know I’m not the only one confused :)

    Posted by Hayden Orange | June 23, 2012, 18:21
  15. Dear Suad, I really liked your blog its very rare to see people speaking their heart out. However your article was touching and I would love to take this oppurtunity to wish you all the best. I would continue be a regular reader of your blogs.

    Posted by Mehul Paul | June 24, 2012, 21:34
    • Hello Mehul, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, and for leaving a comment. I am glad you enjoyed reading my post, and I look forward to having you as a reader =)

      Thank you for your wishes!

      Posted by smshamma | June 24, 2012, 21:37
  16. The pleasure is mine Suad, I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    Posted by Mehul Paul | September 3, 2012, 21:39
  17. your website is nominated to the blog of the year 2012 ..check it here

    http://suavesolidade.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/blog-of-the-year-award-2012/

    Posted by smoothsolidade | November 29, 2012, 20:04
  18. It’s sad how people labels others
    And how stereotypes creates such big problems
    Media are to BLAME!!

    Posted by Immy | March 20, 2013, 22:18

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  1. Pingback: Identity Crisis « Just Sayin' - April 25, 2012

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