Tag Archives: Becoming an Australian citizen was easier than asking to live in the UK for two measly years without benefits

The Meaning of Nationality

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m an Australian citizen now. My mum is Australian, and I’ve been planning to apply for citizenship by descent for nearly my entire life. So I was prepared to do a lot of paperwork, jump through a lot of hoops, and pay for every step along the way. I was not prepared to have a mini identity crisis once it was done.

My citizenship certificate. The Australian coat of arms is at the top, and it states that II became a citizen on July 31st 2014.

Please ignore the fact that I haven’t legally changed my name yet, and just admire the pretty coat of arms.

The worst thing is, the whole thing has been fuelled by all of the anti-immigration rhetoric I loathe, just turned back on myself. I started referring to myself as “technically Australian,” pointing out that I’ve never been to Australia, I don’t really understand Australian culture, and generally acting like I don’t really count. Sound familiar?

I started obsessively reading a book on Australian history, hoping to someday be familiar enough with it to count. Because clearly, the best way to deal with not having to take a ridiculous citizenship test is to act like I have to and to stress about not having worked hard enough for my citizenship.

You know what citizenship I really didn’t work hard for? My US citizenship. I was just born. I didn’t fill out any forms, or even decide that I wanted it. It was just handed to me. Despite that, I feel really out of place in the States. Granted, I’m way more familiar with the culture there than in Australia, but I still can’t answer people’s questions about what it’s like very well. I was generally an unhappy person while I lived there, and I didn’t engage with the world around me.

And somehow, the place that feels most like home is the UK. I doubt I will ever achieve so much as a work visa to live here, I have no family here, highly limited rights, and the sickening thought at the back of my mind that I could be told to leave at any moment, and yet… The day I returned to the UK, after nearly a year of feeling homesick, of being able to think of nothing else, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel anything because I no longer had to twist my brain around to accept the streets and currency and shops in the US that felt strange to me after learning how to be an adult in the UK. I didn’t have to worry about people teasing me for using another culture’s words, slang, and phrasings. That night, I went to the pub I used to work in, and almost everyone knew me and was pleased to see me, and I felt so much love for this country. But according to the UKBA and everyone who supports increased regulation on immigration, I will never belong here. To them, this should never be my home.

So Australia is in the middle here. I want Australia and Australia wants me, even though we don’t really know each other. And that should be enough, that I want Australia. What else is there to go on, really? I’m not the only person with citizenship by descent, or who was born in a different country than the one they were raised in, who immigrated later in life. There are also people who never connect with the culture they are raised in, many who are not familiar with their original country’s history. This whole experience has just illuminated how strange the concept of nationalities really is.

I was raised with my mum constantly reminding me that I was Australian too, and I remember silently filling in the words “not yet.” I was wrong. I was Australian because I always intended to claim citizenship and did so as soon as I was able. I was, and am, Australian because I want to be.

But, now more than ever, I don’t know what being Australian even means.



A lot has happened.

My world has fallen apart, and I’ve slowly been building it up again.

I thought I would keep performing while I did that, but it turns out that paperwork + Baltimore = no energy ever. I could handle lessons. I could plan. I could tell everyone I met about my vision for the music industry, but I could not get up in front of an audience and play a song. Then I went back to Simon’s Rock and played there. I scared a small child, and afterwards an amazing woman came up to me and whispered “You are a badass motherfucker.”

I couldn’t write a blog post, either. I started so many times, and everytime I looked at what I had written and thought “At best, everyone is going to worry about me killing myself,” so I never hit post.

My sister got a kitten. She cuddles with me every morning, and I’ve accidentally started her drinking coffee. She stands on her hind legs to beg every time I hold the carafe to my coffee machine. I swear I didn’t mean to.

I became Australian. All it took was several hundred dollars, three background checks, and all of the pain in my right hand and back as I spent hours upon hours upon days making sure I had filled out the forms neatly. “Give details of all employment and unemployment since birth…”

I have finally started flossing every day. No exceptions.

I came out as non-binary, and changed my name and pronouns. I am Lizard, and my pronouns are they/them. I don’t want to hear about how using my pronouns makes you feel stupid. That’s your problem. Facebook got over it, you can too.

I am no longer making plans to get my house somewhere pretty with some goats and cats, because, as much as I want to be, I am not that person yet. I don’t know what country I’m going to be living in in five years, and, for the first time in my life, I’m okay with that. I don’t talk too much about everything that happened as a teenager because it sounds made-up, surreal. What if people think I’m telling stories for attention?

What if I just stopped analysing my entire life and purpose, and embraced the fact that tonight I convinced an airline to halve the cost of my ticket with my words alone?