After a phenomenal trip to Singapore, Turkey, and Lebanon, I’ve come home to Australia feeling even more like an outsider. A part of it is my horrible, ongoing experience with what I think was the counter-terrorism unit of the Australian border force (yeah – read about that below) – but there’s so much more than that.
The feeling that Australia wasn’t home has always nagged me and it became so much clearer when we were away.
It wasn’t long before my husband and I noticed how much safer and comfortable we felt while walking through the streets of Istanbul. I felt like I was walking through the streets of my own home even though I don’t have a Turkish background, nor have I ever been in Turkey.
I walked through the streets of this foreign land and blended in like a local – the ethnic mix made it easy for anyone to look like they belong, and the large Muslim population meant that my hijab didn’t make stand out. I was just another person going about my day and it has been a long time since I’ve ever felt that – I don’t know if I’ve ever really, truly felt like that.
We didn’t feel the subtle nor glaring glances of people walking past. We didn’t feel like we weren’t in our country like we do when we’re walking around Australia. There was just an implicit acceptance of who and what we were – like a massive cloak had been taken off and we could just be ourselves.
Even when we spoke to people who then realised we weren’t Turkish, we were made to feel like special guests in their home. We felt safe and wanted – not tolerated like we are in Australia.
I guess what made it worse was that Australia was on its worse behaviour while we were away. There was discussion about the creation of another stollen generation, the Immigration Minister (and potato) considering fast-tracked visas for white South African farmers while torturing the refugees we already have and ignoring persecuted minorities around the world, and calls for stronger English language requirements for potential Australian citizens.
All that happened in the same week that we left. I guess being outside of the country made these things feel… worse? We weren’t in the environment and so we could objectively look at it as outsiders. It was shit, and the people we met overseas thought it was shocking and shit.
How are we supposed to feel at home in Australia when it feels like everyone with a tinge of ethnic in them is an outsider here?
Of course, this isn’t the first time that a foreign country felt so comfortable. I felt more at home in Fiji and more at home in Bali too. I almost feel like I’ve developed an unhealthy complex where I’ve been neglected by my own
dad country and so I search for and find love and comfort in the arms of any other older man country that isn’t abusing me right away.
As each day goes by, I’m supposed to be grateful for being Australian while being increasingly forced to justify my existence and explain why I should be ‘tolerated.’
I don’t want to be tolerated anymore.
I don’t want to fight to justify my existence or fight to explain why difference is okay to people.
I just want to feel home.
I can’t really end this post with a mind-blowing realisation or explanation of how I’ll deal with this feeling because I don’t know. I just know it’s keeping me up at night and I don’t know what to do (but I would love to hear how others deal with this feeling…).
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