Happy Fourth of July! Today seems like a great day to officially introduce my blog and myself. I hope you’ve enjoyed my first two posts so far. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally decided to begin blogging as I discussed in my July New Year’s Resolutions post, which has already made me very happy. I am a writer currently finishing a novel, so it’s not that I’m without a creative project, but a girl can multitask, right?
I was born and raised in the South, but sometimes I have an identity crisis and think I’m British, and other times I think I’m a New Yorker. While receiving a BA in English Literature from Furman University, I spent summers in New York City taking in the city, living out my SATC (Sex and the City) dreams, and exploring the world of writing. Then I went on to receive a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Edinburgh. I am currently pursuing more postgraduate for some reason unbeknownst to me (jokes, I chose this permanent student life) work while tackling my writing passions.
The British American was born out of the identity I’ve decided best fits who I am at this moment in my life. I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently, about how it can be prescribed and innate but also something we construct for ourselves. Yes, I do believe we can create and change our identities throughout life. Because life changes so much so quickly, isn’t it only natural we change, too? Anyways, I digress.
If you think about it, your identity is like a bag of tricks. It has different aspects to it, and you bring the right ones out at the right times. In my bag of tricks, I tend to play up my Southern Charm (this show is terrible by the way and does not depict Savannah in a positive light, but it’s reality TV I reckon). Being born and raised in the South, I tend to use it when discussing hospitality and why I like throwing parties and playing hostess so much (you would think I wouldn’t need a reason for putting on a good party). Or the times I refuse to wear white after Labor Day because it is a crime to break that fashion rule in the South (honestly I’ve never wore white up until now as I mentioned in this post, so it was more of an excuse than anything). The Southern card gives me excuses to fall back on.
Sometimes it’s more fun to pull out the old I lived in New York City for two glorious summers so I’m basically a New Yorker card, because it’s much more fun to discuss NYC with Brits than Georgia, a state they’ve never heard of. Or when I want to sound worldlier. Or the other day when I told a Brit not to complain about Edinburgh’s nightlife if he hadn’t experienced the best nightlife in the world (NEW YORK CITY) even though truthful I was too young to enjoy that when I lived there. But he didn’t know that! The New York City card gives me a lot of authority as a person who survived and mastered the city.
In undergrad, I did a semester abroad in which I traveled the UK and lived in London for the last two months. When I eventually did move to Edinburgh nearly two years ago, it made me feel like an honorary Brit. I could walk the walk and talk the talk, so I didn’t feel so out of place or homesick. The British card allowed me to be strong and independent, knowing I could exist in both America and the UK successfully. I wasn’t the dumb American traveling. It made me sound and feel like a citizen of the world as cheesy as that sounds.
Now that I live in Edinburgh, I’m still playing with what the Brit identity does to my bag of tricks. It definitely sets up the stereotype for my American friends to be impressed when I told them my English boyfriend plays football/soccer (David Beckham images, but in my opinion he’s not far off, and I wouldn’t mind being compared to Victoria any day as she’s one of my role models). I do feel at home in Edinburgh, though. I’ve set up a life here, so for now this is where I am (even though I’m still trying to figure out how to feel summery in cloudy Edinburgh).
I’ve realized that none of these identities sit quietly in my bag of tricks, though. There is no way to keep them from mixing and mingling, getting intertwined and diluted. It’s not just a New York City identity I added to my bag. It’s a Southerner who moved to the North. It’s not just a British identity. It’s an American abroad, an American in Edinburgh, a Southerner in Europe, a Southerner who lived in New York but is innately Southern in the UK. Identity is complicated. It’s a more complicated than what can be described, and experiences create it.
I share all of this to show how my identity was formed and hence my blog was born, The British American. I think for now I will describe my identity as forever American with British accents (touches, notes, traces; that would be mildly insane if I changed my actual accent!).
Ashley, The British American