No Hyphen

expat issues

Self identity and how we shape it is a curious thing. Since making the move Down Under nearly three years ago, I think I have become – mostly by my own actions, though not design – The American-(hyphen)….

In my professional life, I sort of set myself up as The American Dramaturg. It was clever, at first, because I could just ask anything I wanted and build schemes around being the new kid in town. It worked for me and I learned a lot, and Aussies seemed to like what I was doing; but I was never able to make the transition from being The American Dramaturg to The Dramaturg, so I ended up having to take my professional efforts elsewhere (i.e. – where I could get a paycheck).

In my personal life, I’m a member of I can no longer count how many “Americans in Oz” groups and my best girlfriends are the American Book Club ladies. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, don’t get me wrong.

I write this blog about being an American expat in Australia (which I have no plans of abandoning, by the way. I am rather fond of this creative outlet, and the challenges it provides me with).

In reverse, I think I’m far too often that person who tells the people back home about how Australia has it all figured out. Sometimes, I catch myself being preachy about the things I think Australia does right – The Ex-American, though that’s not the case at all.

I’ve been in residence in Australia for nearly three years. We’re moving into our third apartment. I’ve had two jobs. We had a child here. I have a hairdresser, and a yoga studio, and a coffee order, and a dining room table. I don’t want to be the American-(hyphen) anymore. It doesn’t feel like it fits, and I don’t think I need the modifier. I’m an American with Australian tendencies or an Australian resident from America. Or, just me…

Sydney is full of expats, and I see many of them assimilate seamlessly without ever needing the adjective crutch. I think if I’d moved here with an Aussie husband or a job, I would have been less likely to make myself the American-, but being here “just because” left me with a need for identity. Three years on, I “fit,” and I’m happy to begin trying out my new No Hyphen identity.