In December, in the comfort of home I looked to the calendar counting down the days to Brexit, the whole thing suddenly became very real for me. I felt a sense of panic and pressure to do something. I was already holding some tension in relation to the uncertainty of these Covid times. Now I was worried about the impact of Brexit on me and others who are living as foreigners in the UK.
I decided to apply for dual citizenship: keeping my German passport and applying for a second UK passport. Even though I already had Settled Status, the cost was high and the deadline for applying was 31 December, I was determined to find peace of mind.
Two months later I still can feel the stress I was under. I managed to get my application in at the last minute. However, it’s still uncertain if my application will be successful. It can take up to six months for a decision. I have no problem with this kind of uncertainty. I took all the steps I could do to feel settled in myself. Reflecting on my experience, the stress came mostly from the time pressure. That’s my responsibility – I chose to apply three weeks before Brexit and the deadline. For sure, I could have done it differently.
But to my surprise, as I was reflecting, another need came up, the need for belonging.
Where do I belong? In Germany or the UK? Frankly, I’m not clear about it. What does it mean to belong? Does it mean having a sense of feeling at home or communion?
Sometimes I have a sense of belonging to one or both countries, sometimes not. It seems to change from day to day or week to week, depending on how I’m connecting with people.
I wonder if there are other people who feel something similar? Does lockdown bring these kinds of feelings and needs on the surface? Many of us are staying at home and therefore have less social connections and more time for self-reflection.
As a person who has moved from one country to another, the need for belonging is definitely important. However, it has become more flexible and changeable. I notice it really helps to become aware of my needs and then to find out which strategies can help me to meet them. The strategy that came up is dual citizenship.
I accept that a sense of belonging isn’t always there automatically. In my understanding, it’s a day-by-day self-empathy process. It’s my way to find peace of mind, to settle down in myself.
I call it COMING HOME to myself.