My name is Baharak (better known as B) and I was born in Iran to Iranian parents and my family left for Pakistan when I was about nine years old. We were later settled to Finland by United Nations Refugee Agency. This was a pivotal era in my young life that shaped much of who I was to become. My experiences in my new “home” where I didn’t fit in, where I was constantly the outsider no matter how hard I tried, left its mark. These were some of the hardest years I have gone through emotionally, but it helped shape me into a more resilient person that I am today.
Later, I moved to London for university and continued to work there before moving to live in Uganda, Oman and Dubai. Having lived in seven countries so far, have taught me to adapt to my new surroundings easier and to appreciate the new culture and customs that each have had to offer. On the flip side, it never gets easier to say goodbyes and to start all over again. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t change these experiences for anything. I simply can’t imagine it in any other way. My work and family circumstances allowed me to see so much of the world, and to experience new places and cultures firsthand. This I am very grateful for; meeting people from all around the world with their diverse backgrounds, learning from it all and making some amazing friends along the way. Maybe this is why I love travelling so much, my soul seems to need it.
For as long as I can remember, I have been pondering about the notion of "home" and identity. Whilst my life has been enriched by my experiences of living and working in various places around the globe, I have found challenges stemming from not having a clear sense of belonging to any given place. However, Finland has become to be what I call home. It is where my closest family lives, and where my oldest friends in the world are. It also happens to be where I am moving back to after 23 years, to live with my two pre-teen children.
Throughout my own journey of evolving identity and dealing with the concepts of home and belonging, I have come across many thought-provoking circumstances, and have had the opportunity to be curious, challenged, and uncomfortable, amongst others. These situations have opened my eyes to the great gap between my sense of identity versus other people’s perceptions of me, and people's inherent need to place others in boxes for their own ease.
Having two children who are half British-half Iranian, one born in Oman, the other one in Dubai, makes us one international mix living under the same roof. My children have moved back and forth between Oman and Dubai, whilst spending most of their summer holidays in Finland. They love spending their holidays in Finland, being close to their extended family. Despite not speaking Finnish, they have a sense independence there. They have embraced their surroundings and even made new friendships with my friends’ children. I am continuously amazed at their ease to navigate these complex scenarios and make the most of it all.
I have often wondered how my children’s sense of identity and belonging may be different and even more complex than my own. So far, they have demonstrated far more ease grappling with these topics than I felt at their age. But identity is fluid and evolving, it is shaped by our personality and our surroundings, it is truly multifaceted and intriguing.
As we embark on a new chapter in our lives, I am carefully observing the contrasts and similarities of our experiences, and reflecting on my observations, questions and thoughts on these topics. I am also privileged to witness the evolution of how identity, belonging, home and being are conceptualized through my children's eyes and their own life experiences. My aim in this space is to be able to articulate how my kids and I navigate through these themes. I am curious, trepidant, hesitant, excited and so much more, on what this life change will mean for them and how it will impact who they are, and how it will be for me to be returning “home”.
One thing I have come to learn in our growth is that our roots don’t have to be deep in any physical place, our roots can be deep within ourselves.
In my case, Rooted in B.