What makes me a Bulgarian?


I am a Bulgarian, I know that for sure (my passport says so). But I just can’t stop asking myself what makes me a Bulgarian in my heart and mind?

As I was leaving Bulgaria to come to Germany for my study, I thought being a Bulgarian is a good thing, because Bulgarians are smart, responsible, hard working, capable of coping with just about everything and capable of having fun too. And I really thought that the combination of these qualities was typical for (almost) all Bulgarians.

I’ve been living in Germany for 4 years now and in that time I had to realize, that the Bulgarians that I knew are actually not really “the Bulgarians”. I’ve seen lazy, irresponsible, stupid Bulgarians, I’ve been reading and hearing mostly about such Bulgarians, I’ve also met some amazingly cool Bulgarians, who don’t really want to be Bulgarians etc. So I’ve got confused.

I don’t mind people to know, that I’m a Bulgarian, I don’t hide it in any way, because I have a nice mental presentation of “the Bulgarian”. Since this mental presentation is simply not true, what are the qualities, that make me a Bulgarian? That I speak the language? (no, that can’t be it, a lot of people speak the language and are not Bulgarians, although language may has some influence on how people think. My blog is in English, is that “not patriotic” in a way?). That I have “Bulgarian value system”? (do I have one, what does this thing look like anyway?) That I love the music and I grew up with the dances? (well, a lot of foreigners could do that too).

I often say, that I don’t want my kids to grow up in Germany. But well, lately I can’t really imagine them growing up in Bulgaria too… May be the world will end in two years and the “problem” will be solved. (of course, I know, that there’s no such thing as “the Bulgarian” or “the Bulgarians”, I’m talking just about my personal definition of  “Bulgarianhood”)

If you have some kind of answer about the mental definition of your nationality for yourself, please share, it could give me some ideas 🙂

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8 Responses to “What makes me a Bulgarian?”

  1. jana Says:

    Whenever the question of my nationality/heritage/background/citizenship comes up, I carefully think about who is asking:

    If I stand in front of someone I suspect doesn’t care, or with whom I don’t want to get into lengthy conversations, I simply say: I’m Canadian.

    If, however, someone is truly interested and/or points out my faint accent, I usually add something along the lines of: …but I was born in Slovakia. I moved to the States after 4 years of traveling around Europe, and Asia.

    The most difficult person to answer the question for is myself. I’ve called myself a gypsy, a citizen of the world, a nomad, a traveler, a person without a home. I am all and none of those. Each place I lived in carved a new perspective for me to see the world from and helped shape my opinions and convictions. It would be unfair to leave any of those places out. Yet, I rarely get to list them all 🙂 And so, to answer my own question, I often conclude: I have lost the sense of nationality – and gained a sense of belonging everywhere.

    • teo Says:

      That sounds really interesting, Jana. I guess this attitude is the most liberating one, I’m so happy for you for having this freedom 🙂

      My parents never taught me in being patriotic or even being a Bulgarian, but “a citizen of the wold”, somehow I just couldn’t buy it. I always felt Bulgarian, but I still can’t really understand why.

      Lately I’m rather getting the feeling of belonging nowhere, rather than everywhere, but actually the “nowhere” could be just the first step in getting to the “everywhere”.

  2. Svetlina Says:

    It`s as easy as this: you are a Bulgarian if you feel like a part of the Bulgarian nation.

  3. Svetlina Says:

    Okay 🙂
    Feeling part of the nation makes you part of the nation 🙂 Why? `cause blood ties are weaker than what you feel or what you choose. Same rule goes with friends – Yana calls me her sister, though I have a real sister who I didnt choose 🙂

    • teo Says:

      I can see that 🙂 Feeling something can be enough and it’s not always rational, so it doesn’t necessarily have some explicit reasons.

      But I think that my heart has its reasons to choose something, like Yana may has some explicit reasons to feel you that close 😉

      (I need reasons, I’m not saying that you or somebody else should seek them too)

  4. jana Says:

    I think the reason WHY people tend to feel as part of a certain group or nationality are quite simple: We need it. We need to belong. We operate with the in-group/out-group mentality. If you’re not in, you’re out. If you’re not one of us, you’re one of them. When nationality is concerned, the choice is (sometimes) simple: you are what your family and friends are. You want to be one of THEM, not a stranger.

    I know the choice gets more difficult the longer one is disconnected from their original group. But the reasons remain the same: be it nature (I was born a Bulgarian) or nurture (I was raised to be a Bulgarian), they both justify your feeling of being a Bulgarian.

    I like to think it’s the combination of the two that makes us choose our nationality quite quickly, without often knowing WHY. We were born with the need to belong somewhere, and through our exposure to societal values, customs, language, history, art, and ethics, picking the nationality that we have the strongest emotional ties to will inadvertently end up being our first choice.

    • teo Says:

      You’re right, we need that, the emotional tie makes the decision.

      In Germany I meet a lot of people, who have parents with different nationalities. Most of them say: “Well yeah, my father is … and my mother is …, but I feel like …” And there is a reason for that, either they had more contact with the parent and grandparents of that personality, or their friends share that nationalities, or something else. And there are also people like you and like what my parent wanted me to be – citizen of the world 🙂

      I just want to find the reasons for my emotional ties, that are probably very complex.

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