“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“So where are you from?”
I cringe when I hear the question, racking my brain to determine what I’ll say.

I am Haitian.
Sundays were marked with soup joumou, celebrations punctuated by konpa, school breaks spent in the sweltering heat of Haiti – beautiful and radiant, despite time’s trauma.
But even among family, I remained an outsider; even as I endured the inconveniences of power cuts and well water, I was a Westerner. My stays were time-bound, my presence ephemeral.

I am American.
I pledged allegiance to the flag each morning, and swelled with emotion during the anthem. My grandfather fled political persecution and chased freedom, liberty, life. My parents exemplified the archetypal immigrant dream: middle-class Americana.
But I was often reminded that I wasn’t really American, despite my birthright. My ‘code-switch’ was a dance between Spanish, English and Kreyòl; I was ostensibly “other.”

I am Scottish.
I came of age in Edinburgh unencumbered by the weight of homegrown stereotypes. I love the dreich days and bonnie landscapes, ceilidhs and a good blether – welcomed for choosing to build a life there.
But government vans crying “Go Home” roamed England’s streets; political rhetoric and red tape stifled hopes of settling. Each homecoming provokes interrogation at the border, a suspicious "what brings you here?”

We all crave connection and belonging.
Perpetually feeling out of place offers me a gift: it informs my commitment to be a leader that actively fosters a sense of belonging, such that people bring their whole selves – and full potential – to bear.

These days, I respond: “I’m a bit of a mixed salad.”

— Judy D'Agostino