Wednesday, 27 June 2012

From Nowhere

By: Daianna

I have a rare phobia. It’s so unusual, I don’t think doctors have bothered to name it.

I am afraid of a question. One that I’m asked by almost everyone I meet. The inevitable follow up to exchanging names and polite comments on the weather.

“Where are you from?”

Nowhere is the new everywhere. 
First, my lips purse. Then, I look nervously around the room and up at the ceiling. I pause for a while, waiting for my interrogator to forget he asked the question and move on to another one.

But there is no escape. And as far as he is concerned, it is a simple question with a simple answer.

I still don’t know how best to respond. Once or twice, I’ve tried “everywhere and nowhere”. But people seem unsatisfied with this. So I usually warn the questioner to prepare for a long and convoluted story.

I breeze through the roster of American cities where I grew up – east coast, west coast and in between. I try to put a quick end to my torture by skipping the messy last decade, when I’ve moved several times between London and Chicago. But everyone wants to know more. “How did you end up in London”?

Before I got married, I’d get the bonus question, “Where is your surname…Rincones…from”? Curses! Another extended and multifaceted yarn featuring another country entirely.

Despite my phobia, I’m mindful of how lucky I am. Whereas various members of my family left Venezuela after being burgled, assaulted or kidnapped, I’m simply a refugee from boredom. When I start feeling too comfortable in one place, I get an itch to move onto the next.

As the world gets (figuratively) smaller, I see more people doing the same. Born in one place, educated in another city and working in different countries – stories like mine are becoming more common. Maybe, one day, people will stop asking the question I dread. We won’t need to be from anywhere. We’ll just be.

Or maybe we’ll make the effort to craft, and the time to hear, these great stories that make us who we are.

~ Part of the Strangers in Strange Lands guest blogging series. Daianna Karaian is a marketer at EDF Energy and a blogger at Sexy Or Susty, where she writes on the importance of doing over saying.


  1. I so understand this! I always hated that question because I can never leave it at the short answer and the more I talk the more questions I get and I end up telling complete strangers my life story for no apparent reason. Plus, I always end conversations convinced that the other person thinks I'm self-centered and insanely talkative!

  2. @Bonny Bard, Yay! Somebody who gets me! Great we're not alone. Don't worry, I won't ask you where you're from.

  3. This sums up in words how I have felt for ages but have been unable to express.

  4. I generally tell people I come from planet Earth. Sometimes they buy it.

  5. I can see why this is the dreaded question for you. There is no short answer. For me the dreaded question has always been "what do you do?"... don't ask.