How Australian am I ?

by Shweta Ramkumar

I recently watched a Netflix documentary series titled “Almost Australian” featuring Miriam Margolyes. After receiving her citizenship, she embarked on a two month expedition road tripping all over her new ‘home’ to learn more about the country and what represents ‘being Australian’. She mentions going through the citizenship test during her time (something I was fortunate enough to never experience as it was introduced well after I became an Australian citizen in 2007), the infamous culture of ‘mateship, the love Australians have for sports and booze and the challenges faced by the Native Aboriginals in the country.

It got me thinking about the definition and meaning of “What or who is a true Australian” ? Is it symbolised merely by our citizenship certificate and passport ? Our ability to speak English fluently ? Our inherent love for sports, the beach / ocean, booze, barbecues and laid back personalities ? Is it demonstrated through patriotism and sovereignty for the nation in our choices and actions ?

Personally, its a very grey area and there is no on single universal definition. Additionally, how an ‘Australian’ looks is even more misleading as the country is made up of people of all ethnic and religious groups, varied colours of hair, eyes, skin and accents.

As I’ve mentioned previously, moving to a new country away from where you spent your formative years can bring its unique set of identity crises, something I experienced intensely. I often found myself living a double life. I tried my best to stick to elements of my Indian roots that I resonated with and to make my parents and the Southern Asian community happy. However, the sense of liberation and autonomy I experienced here as a woman which would’ve been impossible in India is something I harnessed and exploited, which disappointed a lot of my fellow Southern Asians. This internal conflict went on for over a decade leaving me with a lot of emotional turmoil and I lacked a sense of belonging with either cultures.

While I’m now in a much more peaceful place, I’ve pretty much forgone the Indian culture as I find its elements too toxic, sexist and patriarchal. I have more freedom and respect of my life choices as an Australian and amongst Australians, with no one interfering with or judging them. I feel a lot more accepted here for who I am and feel I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. While I’m still indifferent about sports, don’t fully subscribe to the booze, beach and ocean culture (love it in small doses), my open-minded liberal views, values, mutual tolerance & respect for others makes me better aligned as an Australian.

Don’t get caught up in cultural labels and ‘boxes’ you feel you need to fit into in order to be considered ‘Australian’. Embrace who you are, align with aspects of cultures that best resonate with your core values and be your unique authentic self.

Hi, I'm Shweta

I coach non-native English speaking healthcare professionals how to advance in their career and build better relationships with their patients and colleagues by expressing themselves more articulately and confidently in the English language.

I work closely with healthcare professionals who work with patients regularly. I help them improve their communication skills when interacting with patients and colleagues, teach them how to show up authentically, assertively and articulately in their field of work in order for them to ultimately gain credibility, validation and respect.

If you work in a clinical role in the healthcare industry and would like to learn more about how to better connect and communicate openly with your clients / patients, book a complimentary 30 minute discovery call with me to see how I can best support you.

Shweta Ramkumar - English Language Confidence Coach