Why I’m proud to be Romanian

November 5, 2015 § 4 Comments

I have often been ashamed to admit to someone I’m Romanian. There, I said it. In hindsight I think this was because I was afraid I would be judged strictly based on my nationality. I’ve lived through a number of episodes where I was called out on my nationality or singled out because of the country I grew up in – and not in a good way. I remember once when Elvin and my sister were renting bikes from the local bike center the guy there asked for my nationality, and to my boyfriend’s and sister’s disbelief, I said I was Croatian. It wasn’t the first time – I was on a train once when a guy tried to pick me up and when he started a conversation asking me the obvious question, I said I was Serbian (in case you’re wondering, yes, he turned out to be Serbian; you can imagine how this ended).

Shame is a very powerful emotion – it dominates a lot of what we do. Being ashamed of your roots – your nationality, your parents, your upbringing is very painful, as you’re negating a significant part of who you truly are, irrespective of judgements.

But over time I have not only come to terms with being Romanian – I’m actually proud of it. In fact, I consider myself blessed to have been born and raised in that country. Why? Well, let’s just say we Romanians did not have it all. Because of the hardships my generation and even 2-3 generations before us endured I understand what it means to be competitive, to have goals and work for them, to be frugal, to save money, to not have everything at your fingertips. I know the power of dreaming – after all, I wanted that scholarship at King’s College London with every ounce of my being. I understand cultural diversity very well – the combination of Latin and Slavic heritage is very unique. I understand middle Eastern influences too and at the same time I’m familiar with the longing for a higher standard of living similar with the one in Western Europe.

But it’s not just inter-cultural savviness that is at play here. There’s also empathy. Because I know hardships I am much more inclined to recognize them in others and react appropriately. I know how hearts expand with compassion. And I can do a lot with very little. Now, this may be translated as ‘I can improvise, and sometimes the quality is sub-par’. I know there is this stereotype about Romanians being superficial and performing below the standards. But having little and wanting more means you will need to be creative and resourceful. Being under a less than ideal political regime for 50 years (and some 25 years more) will definitely enhance someone’s resilience and capacity to rise above circumstances.

These days Romania’s face is changing before our very eyes and a huge wave of energy is surging. I’m keeping my eyes and heart fully open to see what the next chapter will bring.


§ 4 Responses to Why I’m proud to be Romanian

  • arakelian says:

    I am too. I am proud. I regret I am not on Bucharest now, on the streets.

    • Sinziana says:

      I know exactly what you mean Arakelian. I felt a bit like a fraud for expressing any opinions or feelings about what is going on in the country now – since I don’t live in Romania anymore. I’m still thinking about ways I could contribute myself – it’s not impossible.

  • Daniela E. says:

    You’ve captured perfectly the emotions I myself feel regarding my Romanian roots. With everything going on back home, there’s this sort of energy that empowers me to believe that things will change for the better in Romania. Maybe it will not change as fast as we would want, but who doesn’t see progress is not looking close enough.

    • Sinziana says:

      Wow, Daniela, just wow! You’re right, real change takes baby steps. There’s so much to be said about what is going on in Romania these days, on so many levels. But it’s true that the tragedy that happened exactly one week ago touched everyone’s hearts and gave us the impulse to rise from our own ashes. As for me, I have never felt more belonging as I do now. Thank you for commenting here!

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