Before I started this blog, I already knew what I wanted to call it. When I shared the name Mercurial Maiden with some friends, a couple were confused why I’d go for something that had a bit of a negative connotation attached to it, especially since I’d technically be “branding myself”.
I guess it depends on how you look at it. To be mercurial is not always the best thing, but context is king, so I suppose that I ought to do some explaining for those who may be interested..
The Oxford dictionary defines the adjective mercurial as:
(someone) “Subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind.”
and a Mercurialist is someone born under the influence of the planet Mercury; “a person having the qualities attributed to such a birth, especially eloquence, ingenuity, or aptitude for trade. Also occasionally with unfavourable connotation: a sharper, a thief.”
I wasn’t born under Mercury’s influence, but Mercury: planet of communication, is one I do relate to on a personal level of expression, perhaps even more than my own planetary rulers. Whether I’m all the wonderful things described above (eloquent, ingenious, or have an aptitude for trade), is not for me to judge, but the point is that we seldom hear of Mercury linked to positive descriptors.
We do, however, have a tendency to curse the day we feel the effects of a Mercury retrograde, which is when communication goes to hell. Trust me, you do not want to be under the wrath of a mercury retrograde. That’s when everything goes wrong. One day, you’re about to secure the deal of your life; the next, you lose it all without warning. So, yeah, being mercurial can really suck.
I wouldn’t mind learning how to swindle though!
Moving away from tangents (sorry!), and more to the point-
I was born British Lebanese, but I was also born in the U.A.E. I guess that makes me a third culture kid, and a very confused one to put it lightly. Please don’t ask me where I “really” come from, or which country I identify most with, you cruel, cruel person.
Am I trying to say that all third culture kids are mercurial? No, I’m not. However, not all third culture kids have had to morph in and out of certain characters throughout their life. To complicate things further, to be a Brit and Lebanese call for two totally opposite qualities, if we can even call heritage quality.
Without getting into the specifics of how each nation differs from the other (I can’t do that without offending at least a few people), it suffices to say that their respective opposing geographical placements on this earth (and the cultural prejudgement and prejudice that comes with all of that) says it all.
I am extremely privileged, but it was not easy growing up between both east and west. It’s still not easy.
The hardest part has been having to separate what I’ve learnt from both worlds, without letting it tear me apart. It’s not about having the best of both worlds. It’s about knowing where to draw the line without losing yourself.
Unfortunately, that also means having to make a lot of compromises and decisions usually involving picking one over the other at different times of life, often switching back and forth, ultimately appearing like a hypocrite of sorts. Not easy, I tell you!
Some people are probably reading this going, “yeah, right, ’cause having choice is soooo tough, and growing up bilingual is such a burden. What a spoilt brat!” (sarcastically)
To each his own.
I hate to break it to you though, but conservatism and liberalism don’t mix and mingle very well. Lebanon may be extremely liberal and open-minded in comparison to the rest of the Middle East, but let’s just say that it’s gotten us confused Lebanese libertines (don’t mind if I do!) in to more trouble trying to defend our honour than not (again, without going into politics).
We’re also governments, policies, parliaments and eons away from the kind of liberty that a lot of the Western world enjoys (I lied. Politics is everywhere. We can’t avoid that shit).
It may seem like I’m singling out Lebanon. What about the UK? Well, the UK has its fair share of problems as well. It’s seen liberals clash with conservatives, and a host of discrimination as well. But, again, getting into specifics is not the point.
Having to natively switch between east and west, adapt my thinking, perspective and consideration towards different communities, societies and ways of life accordingly– often confusing my own identity in the process– brings new meaning to having unpredictable shifts in thinking and mood.
I am mercurial because I am a chameleon.
At the cost of being misunderstood and inconsistent with certain attitudes, which also comes at the hefty price of losing locals (friends included) in favour of a neutral global mindset, it can be distressing (but never a dull moment).
I wouldn’t change myself for the world though, because although I may have lost a lot to confusion and misidentification, I’ve gained and continue to gain an international sanctuary.
And so the mercurial maiden was born.
Thanks for reading!