If I were to be completely honest, I have spent my entire weekend thinking about what makes Maryam’s identity? What makes this little naïve seventeen years old’s wretched identity? And I found my answer, sourced in a single characteristic that has sort of rebelled against everything that I have been raised to believe was right.
So, as to begin, my name is Maryam Abdulaziz Bin Sougat Al Falasi. I come from a tribe, and a family, of poets and all kinds of lovers of the written word, like my late grandfather and my great uncle who are both poets. And it’s only wonderful when it’s not. See, this passion and love for words is absolutely spectacular, but something else tagged along with it, and it’s something I like to call: Extreme Conventionalism. And although being conventional is wonderful, it does come with its rough ends. Because with conventionalism comes traditionalism, evidently, and traditionalism carries a certain set of characteristics that are required in every individual. My family and my society carry these characteristics with pride. And here, is where my problem arises: I don’t carry these characteristics with pride. Because I am required to have so much pride I could blow up; to be so nationalistic I might as well turn into a flag; to be so in tune with my own culture that it becomes who I am. I cannot be any of these things. I don’t feel, in any manner, connected to my culture. And this is the honest truth. The reason behind this is sourced in the fact that I am an introvert. Now being an introvert (the rebelling characteristic that I have mentioned above.) means being an inward-thinker, and my society is forcing me to be an outward-thinker. I have tried so hard to be this Epitome of Perfection Extrovert, but it just wasn’t my thing. It wasn’t who I am.
Through this, through trying to fit into a mold that was not crafted for me, I have understood that I was born to not fit into a mold at all. That I cannot be a part of my society the same way an atom is a part of a sea, but I can be a part of my society the same way the wind is part of the forest. It is not exactly directly relevant to the forest, but it is still a fracture of it. And even though people have regarded my introversion with distaste, and a thousand different people tried to ‘fix’ my innate habit, I am still fond of my introversion. My introversion, I have realized through this, is what made me who I am—what crafted my identity. It allowed me to look at my society wonderfully, because it has given me the same pride, the same nationalism, and the same understanding of my culture but in a different form that suits me best.
To further elaborate, even though my country’s language and its culture haven’t influenced me the same way it has influenced my peers, it still has its mark. This might sound awfully silly, but because both my parents have Bedouin relatives, and Bedouin carry their pride in their language, my parents’ accent has a touch of Bedouin, and so naturally, my accent has a touch of Bedouin as well. And even though it is rough and archaic, it does have its own flare—it is its own source of pride. Here is where I sourced mine, in our own unique language. It made me look at my country in an entirely different light. It made me feel that I can be a part of it, that this language serves as the connection between my society and I.
So I have come to the conclusion that an identity, to me, does not have to be a set of pre-constructed notions and characteristics based on other people’s ideas of who an individual must be, but a set of characteristics partially derived from a nation’s culture, and partially derived from the individual’s own journey into self-discovery and understanding.