“Your parents warn you about the monsters you might encounter in dark alleyways, but they never warn you about the monsters you might find in your mind, the ones that taunt and trouble you, and make you question yourself to your very core.” (Bryony Gordon)
I’m so glad I’m now at the point where I’m able to identify the deeply ingrained issues I’ve always had with my identity. I touched upon it without exactly meaning to before, but I feel the topic definitely deserves a follow-up. (Issues don’t concern my gender by the way, as the picture might suggest, being toilet doors outside a petrol station in the middle of a Russian motorway.)  
I’ve written about the importance of extracting your rotting teeth rather than “treating” them. What I didn’t discuss was the infection that could enter your bloodstream if the teeth are left for too long. My infection took the form of living vicariously through friends and family, looking for validation in any place that I could find it… yet rejecting that validation when I got it, because I knew that the validation wasn’t for me but for the false identity I’d been wearing.
London and the rest of the UK are honestly totally different places. Also, check out this delicious Masala Dosa I had a few days ago.
I was born in England and up to this point I have lived my entire life here. But there’s not a drop of British blood in my veins (as far as I know). London, where I live, is a multicultural amazing mixing pot filled with millions of people all gathered from their respective different worlds, so I was always pretty comfortable. It’s as soon as I step out of London that I feel as if I’m just putting on a show.
I guess I look the part and I sound the part. But as soon as I’m surrounded by people with British ancestry who start talking about things like “afternoon tea” and their “nans”, I’m brought back to the fact that I can’t really see myself acting as an ambassador for this place I call home because… I really honestly don’t feel British.
And then when there’s constant scrutiny surrounding these “Russian hackers”, and Putin, and Russia vs Ukraine etc., I can’t help but feel slightly insecure regarding all of that. The worst was when the events surrounding Crimea started kicking off and I’d get asked questions like, “must be awkward between the Ukrainian and Russian parts of your family now, right? What’s your opinion?”. It was bad because not only do I feel like I can’t call myself British and speak as a representative of Britain, I can’t speak out for Ukraine and Russia either, even though the blood that runs through my veins originated in these two countries – I only visit my families there once a year at most. So I don’t feel RussoUkrainian. But I don’t feel British either. I am hovering in the middle, not anchored down, in an absolute limbo.
When I was younger, based on the fear of discrimination, the option was given to me to change my surname from Lebedeva to Swan or Swann (Lebedev/a rooting from Lebed, swan in Russian.) At the time, I was really for it, yet I also kept quiet as I was afraid I’d disappoint someone with my answer. I understand now that the reason why I was pretty keen was because, equipped with this Anglicised surname, I could finally have a solid identity that wouldn’t be questioned. Now the thought honestly makes me upset, and I’m glad it didn’t happen, because I never achieved anything resembling happiness by censoring myself and pretending to be something I’m not.
I’m getting a hang of all the little parts that make me me. I’m not British. I’m not Russian. I’m not Ukrainian. I’m all three at once. I’m lucky enough to be able to hold all three as a part of me. That’s one section of my identity and I’m not afraid to hide it anymore. It’s a blessing, and I’m proud to be able to say that my whole is made up of several parts.
…That being said, I envy people who have a short and simple answer to the question, “where are you from?”.
 Regarding the overall condition of these kinds of toilets… if you know, you know. I had the rubles to use the actual indoor ones.
 Женщина & мужчина, woman and man respectively.