For the past few years, I have struggled with my own identity. With it being ever so easy to slip behind the cultural norm wherever I go. Dark hair, dark eyes, a face without too many particular attributes that’d give me away. I look as Italian, as I do Irish, as I do American.
I am treated like I belong almost everywhere I have gone – as long as I don’t open my mouth.
It’s interesting, to go hide under the radar, to be treated like a local in most places. The blue eyes I wanted from my Dad maybe would have been too bright. A lack of freckles would push my skin tone just too pale. I play with my outside appearance – different shoes, different, dress, different makeup, different hair. What pushes me over to “American?” What hairstyle says “Italian?” I can be who I want to be in this city depending on how I feel – and I realize that is a strange privilege that many don’t have when they travel.
My perception of this country is shaped on how I am perceived and many people don’t realize that when coming from the US – when anyone, however they look, can be assumed from there – at least that is how it was when I was growing up. Here, now, if someone doesn’t “look” Italian, even I will assume they are foreign or traveling. Blonde in bright colors? First thought is northern EU or somewhere in the US, for example. It’s something I just realized I started doing as I became more comfortable here in order to interact with everyone in this international city everyday. It puts everything I understood into question – and I’m still trying to figure it out. What aspects are the most important for being accepted? Language, of course, is huge, but yet with my face, I’m already halfway there.
It’s late and I’m rambling today. A train of thought at night after a day of a lot of things. I’ll come back to this topic but wanted to begin it because it was my interesting aspect of the day. I have to thank my Mum for her beautiful Italian features – I still wish I had her skin that turns a deep gold in the summer, but for many things, I fit right in, and it helps this crazy life just that much more – as ridiculous as it sounds.