'England, like you.'
'No but really, where? You can't be from here, you don't look like it.'
As a young girl, I always dreaded the question.
'Where are you from really?'
'Why don't you look like the rest of us?'
The reason I hated answering was because I didn't know, for me, there wasn't one set culture or country to identify with. I'm an American-Filipino-Spanish-New Zealand-Brit still learning to love having multi-racial parents, nineteen years and counting!
God blessed me with many cultures but as child, it was always incredibly confusing. Identity is something often found for children in their parents or in their culture, something constant in their life that they identify with.
So where some teenagers find their identity in their country, alcoholic beverage or local sports team, I find mine in Christ.
Turning to the Bible for answers of who I am and who he wants me to be, I find Psalms Chapter 139 verse 14, 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' That means that when I look in the mirror, any insecurities I see are taken away and God reminds me that I am a beautiful person he created and has a plan for my life, as he does yours.
It's so easy, as a human to lose ourselves in the World. With the rise in social media,
it amazes me how many young girls are turning to online mediums to feel better and more often than not, feel worse about themselves in order to find that sense of identity and belonging that they're missing.
It has a follow on effect too, from my small town just outside of Wellington; it's the lack of identity for youth that has led more than fifteen to suicide and others to react in violence to deal with the grief.
The importance of belonging to something, being a part of something greater and that sense of identity, of knowing who you are and being confident in that is something I see as a vital and what I believe is missing from young people today. This of course is a drastic example but when adversity hits hard and challenges appear too hard to bear, we all come close to falling down. It's at these times that I believe we hear God the most. 'Look to the Lord and his strength, seek his face always.' (1 Chronicles 16 verse 11)
Terrible things happen and they can happen to the best of people at the worst of times. I know that talking to God with people especially when they've lost loved ones, is hard but often it's the best time to ask people if you can pray with them.
I find for me it's the best time for me to talk to my friends because they're often so desperate and broken, they'll choose to listen.
Identity to me is something that continues to grow and shape with age and experience but looking to God to find your identity in Christ is always the best place to start.
It's about reminding myself that even when I'm not myself some days, that God 'is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress and I will not be shaken.' (Psalms 62 verse 6)
Joelle Bautista is a Journalism student of the New Zealand Broadcasting School based in Christchurch. She enjoys writing, talking and playing sport. Born and raised in the Church, her love for God grows increasingly by the day.
Joelle Bautista's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/joelle-bautista.html