Afghan | Bulgarian

I identify as Afghan/Bulgarian & straight. My mom is from Bulgaria and my dad is from Afghanistan. They met in the early 90s at the Bulgarian seaside through a common friend. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria.

I believe the first time I realized I was different was in first grade. Some of the other kids thought my name was quite unusual and began addressing me by my full name all the time. This continued for several years and while I know now they were simply curious, I grew up disliking my name because it would always put me on the spot.

My friends come from all circles of life. Definitions never played a role in choosing friends. The same goes with looking for a partner. I focus on character traits such as kindness, humor and intelligence, rather than the cultural background of a person.

Being mixed is a highly subjective experience. I think it depends a lot on the ethnic and cultural background, the person himself and the political/social environment. I can only speak of my experience. For instance, growing up in post-communist Bulgaria in a mostly homogenous society, I was very much aware of the fact that my family was different. However, I was lucky because people were usually curious when they would learn about my mixed ethnic background. If there was ever any bias, it would be based on my Afghan background in particular rather than me being of mixed heritage.

Finding my identity and coming to terms with it took a long time. In some ways, the process is still ongoing. When I was younger I would present myself as a Bulgarian; then I started acknowledging my other roots and became more Afghan for a bit; and today – I’m not yet sure what I am exactly, so I just say I’m 50/50. The fact that I don’t know Farsi is making this process harder.

I’ve often felt at ease being surrounded by a diverse group of people or fitting in, in general. Coming from two distinct cultures has allowed me to experience and navigate the world easily and with an open mind.

There is one thing I didn’t have when I was growing up and that is a sense of real belonging. I would like to experience what it is to have a place where I can fully belong to the culture, the people and the traditions. That being said, I am who I am because of my mixed heritage and I am absolutely grateful for the life I had.

I believe the world is bound to be increasingly intertwined and the number of mixed people will no doubt rise. This means that more people would have an innate understanding and respect for more than one culture/ethnicity. The future looks promising, if this is the case.