The events unfolding around post-Brexit have got me thinking. As human beings, we seek companionship and to be accepted. It’s part of our psychology. History shows how we form tribes, or associate ourselves with certain communities to whom we feel an affiliation. The haste in which the European Union institutions and its Member States want us to invoke Article 50 and leave has, as someone who feels more European than British, felt like a rejection from society. They no longer want us. We’ve been kicked out of the friendship group, where 48% of us (and countless under 18s) have been classed as non-Europeans based on a majority vote. This, I accept, is democracy, but when the voice of the 52% becomes the generalised view of the whole nation, it feels like we have become part of a stereotype; you are a British person, and therefore you are Eurosceptic and do not wish to be in the EU. Why can’t some of us have a choice to remain EU citizens? Have an EU passport? I know the legal ramifications make this impossible, but I would trade my British passport for a European passport any day.
What is my point? Well, it has made me realise that leaving the EU feels like part of my identity is being split in two. The EU is an institution to which I can belong. Growing up,
I felt like much of an outsider in my white, middle class hometown. I have a Southern accent and speak well – subconsciously or not, certain people think I am ‘posh’ without any insight into ‘real life’. My external facade is extremely different to the world I grew up in. I am more liberal than most and have experienced a lot of things in this world. Sure, I speak well, but life’s thrown me a lot of curveballs, meaning I have always felt very detached from the values and interests of the majority in a Tory market town. It wasn’t until I reached university and have subsequently lived in London for 6 or more years that I found my own ‘tribe’. An international family. I felt like I belonged, because I lived in a city that was filled with people of all backgrounds and walks of life. I can be myself here, I am not judged, and I have the most amazing friends from all across the world living or working nearby. I try to see the big, global picture in all that I do. Working with other countries and feeling part of the European Union has unknowingly become a safe place of comfort and acceptance in my identity and feelings of belonging – something I didn’t have growing up, where things felt too insular for my inquisitive mind.
The EU wants Britain to leave as soon as possible. ‘We’ have made our choice and ‘we’ have rejected the EU. But I haven’t. And 48% of people haven’t. And no matter how it feels right now – that the rest of Europe hates us, even though we voted to Remain – we have to pull together as part of our own EU community within a country that has become divided. Whilst we may no longer have the EU flag on our passports, we still have its values in our hearts. And that’s what will keep me going during this heartbreaking time.