A week ago I became Dutch. It took longer than a year from the moment of applying and more than 5 years of pondering upon this decision. Shall I take a Dutch passport or not? For some people this decision can be quite easy and without serious consequences. In my case it involves losing my Polish citizenship. As I have not married a Dutchman the law says that in this case I need to get rid of my Polish citizenship. Harsh but clear.
When I came to live in Amsterdam 18 years ago such matters did not occupy my mind. I was busy building my life here. Years later it suddenly became significant. As I have a son now who was born here it matters to me what kind of future I am giving to him. Stability or uncertainty?
A clear vision, an identity or being torn between two cultures?
I remember my pain and indecision many years ago when I struggled in my new country.
Many times I wished I went back to my roots. Everything seemed so distant and strange even in the hospitable and open city such as Amsterdam. It took me at least five years to ground here and feel at home. For this I will be forever grateful to my friends who helped me through these difficult times.
Sometimes I can still feel out of place and misunderstood. My Polish sense of humor and melancholy do not rime well with Dutch dry and down to earth approach. Still, most of the time I feel at ease and content with my choice.
Living in Amsterdam, a cosmopolitan place helped a lot. Mine is just one of many languages spoken here, equal to anybody else.
Pain of having to leave a piece of me, my old identity behind softened with years. It has changed into acceptance of what is.
On a hot Monday afternoon I raised my hand and promised to abide by the rules of this country. So help me God. Together with a colorful crowd of brand new Dutch citizens.
Just one request to my Dutch countrymen: please do not say my Dutch is so good it does not sound as a compliment to me. I do not fit into a standard frame because I am still myself. Even with a Dutch passport.