European identity is a complex one with many debates surrounding it (European nationalisms and identities is a particular interest of Josef's over at the Citizen-Europe blog), and identity, politics and culture fascinate me in how they interact at times. Still, on the question of European identity, I can only give a personal response.
So am I European, becoming European or is there any "European" for me to be anyway?
"European" to me is a lot of things. First, there's the mix of values that always gets mentioned when European identity is brought up; which is shown in a certain balance between individualism and the community and the welfare state. It's also a shared cultural and historical legacy that has shaped the continent and its nations, though sometimes in different ways.
Mostly, for me, being - or becoming - European is aspirational. When I think of Europe, I think of its diversity and its languages and its traditions, and I want to travel, explore and experience all of the little differences, while I still feel at home. To me it's not rootless cosmopolitanism, but a deep appreciation for many roots and a desire to feel a part of the different places and people that I meet.
Being European seems to be a process; of traveling, learning, meeting and experiencing, in places that feel to be familiar, but with added flavour. It's not something that I can really claim to be very good at - I have no natural gift at languages, though I try in my own way to learn more and practice (see my on-again-off-again German blog), and in many ways I'm very rooted locally: with my friends and family, and with my degree (and presumably career) path anchoring me home. I'm also a creature of habit. Though some factors mean that I cannot move as freely as some, I have met several people who I have found inspirational in their attitude.
For me, the European Ideal is in discovering and enjoying all that Europe has to offer. I doubt that many people could ever really "be" European - at least in the fullest sense of what I have in my head - but I think that the process of becoming is perhaps the major part of the thing itself. It's certainly one of the most enjoyable parts.
So am I European? Can you ever really say for yourself? Blogging has made me feel more European, and more connected, and has moved me to become a part of things like Th!nk2. If nothing else, I certainly want to be European - I've seen it, and I want to be part of it.
Do you think that a European identity could ever be inspirational (or aspirational)?