The question “Where are you from?” may seem like one of the most simple questions to answer. And for most people who have lived in one place for the majority of their life, it is. But for some of us, it’s a question that doesn’t have a straight answer, and it can often lead to many more questions.
I realize that most people ask where someone is from as a form a small talk. It’s a way to get to know someone you’ve just met. Really, it’s not a bad question at all. It’s a good question that lets someone know you’re interested in getting to know them, but you’re not trying to be invasive. And generally, I don’t have a problem with someone asking it. It’s my ability to answer it that’s the problem.
I guess my issue is that I am not really sure what the question means. When someone asks me where I am from, do they mean where I was born? Where I grew up? Where I live now? Because those are 3 different answers. Do they mean where I feel most at home? Because, to be honest I’m not sure of that answer myself. It just gets complicated.
I’ve come to realize that it depends on the person asking the question. If someone from New Jersey (where I live now) asks me where I’m from, I simply tell them the town I currently live in. It’s much easier than telling them I’m an American, born and raised in Thailand and have also lived in Malaysia and Tennessee (random) and been all over the world. The way I answer the question depends on where I am at the time and who is posing the question.
I suppose the question really means where do you CONSIDER yourself from? Which for me, includes all of the above places. I am not “from” any one place in particular. I guess I’m blessed, because I feel at home in so many different places.
So, my true and honest answer would be – I grew up in Bangkok and Khon Kaen, Thailand. I have lived in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Malaysia. There is a piece of me that feels at home in each of these places. I will never be from any one place in particular, and I could be happy living anywhere.