Citizenship status: It's complicated
The idea of being a citizen of more than one country doesn’t seem so complex, and yet it continues to confuse even the citizen in question.
Dual citizenship is identity limbo: I mostly belong, but I’m always reminded that I’m really from somewhere else.
There are advantages and disadvantages to having multiple citizenships. As a Swiss-Italian-British-Canadian, I have four embassies to turn to if something goes wrong while I’m travelling. I have easy access to social security in four countries. I have four times the homes, four times the safety nets, and four times the feelings of belonging—and it’s nice.
But am I allowed to be patriotic? What if one belongs to countries instead of a country and one’s countries are in some way opposed? If I’m committed to one language but a different culture, then am I patriotic towards both for supporting them or neither for valuing another? Multiple citizenships mean that somewhere, in the back of my head, if I’m proud of any one country, three others are hissing and calling me a traitor or a fake.
The story of integration is one of me versus them—the population of any single society or culture. It’s being stuck halfway between estrangement and belonging: too foreign to be a local; too local to be a foreigner; not quite an outsider, but not quite an insider.
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Passports have come to signify home, but let’s remember that they were originally only the paperwork required to travel. We all await an ID that can mark us as belonging to the world as opposed to a single country. Until then, let’s remember that citizenship defines individuals no more than driver’s licenses. To my fellow hyphenated Canadians: you are what you identify as, not what your passports dictate.