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On the confused emotions around gaining British citizenship 17 days before Brexit.

I became a British citizen on March 12! So how do I feel about it?


1: A rush of relief 


Getting my residency, and upgrading this to citizenship, has literally taken years of test-taking and form-gathering and fees and waiting and nail-chewing and more fees and getting new photos taken and filling out more forms and more waiting.

After the relatively simple ceremony (swear fealty to a nonagenarian; sign a form; get photos taken), I mostly felt relief. Relief at the security of my new legal status  not being subject to administrative whims. For residency, as these lawyers say, is a precarious thing:
The right of permanent residence may also be withdrawn at any time on the basis of public security, public health or public policy.

But now, no matter what happens over the next days, weeks, and months, I'll be able to stay unencumbered in the country where I've spent the bulk of the last 13 years, where my job, and my husband's job, the kid's school, our little flat, and our corresponding friendship groups are based. I feel more protected, I suppose - but also like I'm finally able to speak up without violating the unwritten rules of guesthood, or potentially jeopardizing my chances to join Club Britannica.



2: Glee at staying German - and EU-European

One of the rare exceptions to Germany's arcane nationality laws (I know more about jus sanguinis and jus sol now than ever before) is that you can hold dual citizenship of an EU country – and German citizens who demonstrably applied for UK citizenship before March 29 can keep it. This means I can still work anywhere in the EU (and EEA!) and travel unencumbered, without having to relinquish too much.

3: A tinge of privileged guilt

Despite agonizing over the potential uncertainty of my status these last months, I know I'm insanely lucky. Though the strain was crushing at times (do I have all the right documents? will everything be ready in time), ultimately I didn't have to sacrifice anything beyond time and money - and my family's support helped mitigate the latter.

4: The excitement (but also weight) of new responsibilities

I'm excited about being able to vote in all UK elections now (including, hopefully, a new referendum).

But with all the uncertainty right now, so what's the best thing to do? Petition my Brexitophilic MP to actually act in the best interests of his constituents? Because the issue here is: he seems like a decent guy who from everything on his website genuinely seems to think he's doing just that (disclaimer: his kid is in the yeargroup above Trollkin and it's hard to hate on someone you vaguely know and who holds open the gate for laden parents). I imagine we'd end up agreeing to disagree, but only one of us gets to represent their point of view at Westminster.

And even beyond the Brexit mess there are so many issues to work out. Like what chance do we still have at rescuing the planet? How can we reduce inequality, unfairness, and discrimination? What's the next logical step? Months of tension and anxiety have left me drained - in addition to the aforementioned relief and glee, I was mostly just exhausted on Tuesday afternoon. Though there's still plenty to be tense and anxious about, it's also good to just be able to breathe.

5: But not really "British"

As my friends and family ask – do I feel British now? Do I feel at home here?

That’s still a clear no.

I should add: moving countries every few years as I grew up (the joy and bane of being a third-culture kid), feeling at home isn't linked to specific places for me. It's linked to people – family and friends. Trollkin, who enjoyed nursery in France, has put down firm roots here in a way that I never did anywhere. But though there's a lot I like about the UK and especially London, I was too old when I first moved here to properly assimilate.

So while I’m very excited to now hold triple citizenship, the big thing for me is that there’s still so much more to be done - and once I've regrouped internally, I can start to figure out what that is.


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