I am often asked where I come from.
I find this uncomfortable for many reasons, but mainly because I’ve lived all over the world and view myself as a global citizen. A human.
Beyond that, though, the question itself is ‘othering’.
Your accent, where you live, where you were born, where you have spent time: it all makes up part of your identity. So what’s the answer? Where do I come from? All of those places and more.
‘Where do you come from’ is a simplification. A question children ask, and grow out of. In fact, when asked by adults it is often a weapon. A way to pass judgement on someone else for where they have been, or how they represent themselves.
Of course, identity is important to many people. But it isn’t fixed. If you move from one country to another, or one city to another, your identity changes. Even if you don’t ever move, your identity changes. A new job, a new relationship, a new skill, a growing family, all have an impact on identity too.
This is why I don’t believe humans should be shackled to their past. It is not a true indication of who they are now or the person they will become in the future.
So, while I think it unlikely I will ever get away from the ‘where do you come from’ question living in Leeds with a southern accent, I now have a counter questions which I ask in return:
‘Where are you going?’
This allows me to have far more interesting conversations with people I meet, who interpret my counter in all kinds of ways.
Because ‘where are you going?’ is so clearly open to interpretation, I might get literal answers like:
The corner shop
Or more profound, personal answers that show depth:
Wherever the wind takes me
That’s god’s will
Towards a bright future
Or even in-depth detailed plans from people who have taken a lot of time thinking about what’s to come for them, and are pleased to share:
I want to get out of this part of town, so I’m saving for a house
I’m going to make partner by 30, and retire by 55
I’m an artist, and I can do that anywhere, so I am going to travel and make things for as long as possible
Answering the question, ‘where are you going?’ allows a kind of serious play. If you don’t already know the answer, you can dream. Where could you go? If the options were limitless, where would you go? By asking yourself, you’ll get to know yourself better than you ever could pondering where you have been or where you might come from. There is never a perfect time to take charge of your future, but having a true understanding of your whole, authentic self will unleash potential you didn’t know there.
This is the philosophy that built Jago, and that’s why at Jago we always start with EQ coaching to help our clients gain clarity on who they are now, what they want to achieve and the person they want to become.
Together, we work towards a clear answer to the question ‘where are you going?’
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