On becoming American

On April 19th, I swore in as an American citizen after living in the US for nearly eight years. I am lucky that my immigration process was pretty frictionless.

Those of you who know me understand that I’m a proud Canadian. I’ll likely never give up the “u” in words like colour and behaviour. And one of the first things that someone learns about me is that I’m from Toronto.

The naturalization ceremony was emotional for me. I cried while citing the Pledge of Allegiance, because for that moment, I thought I had become less Canadian. And it didn’t help that so many of my American friends teased me about why I would choose to get my US citizenship during such a trying time for the country.

I have been wanting to write about this experience for the past month, but needed some time to reflect on my feelings. Thankfully, the tears were very short-lived; they ended right after citing the pledge. And now I can confirm why becoming an American was the right decision for me.

It’s about freedom.

Practically speaking, I now have the ability to vote for the leader of the free world. And given the current political situation, this seems more important than ever. I can even run for office and make a direct political difference. After years of “behaving” like an American (i.e. paying taxes), why not have the same rights as one?

And from an emotional standpoint, I now feel that the US is my home. I’m no longer just a visitor and temporary resident in the country where I’m living and contributing to.

The freedom has shifted my state of mind. It’s a subtle change, but will have a big impact moving forward, bringing both a certain peace and empowerment.

As ironic as this seems, being American means that I can spend more time in Canada (I’m half joking, but it is nice to have the option). And, my citizenship allows Version One to have a permanent presence in the US as we continue to invest all over North America. I realize that I am even more of an official bridge now between Canada and the US. I like to think that the founders who we back can have the best of both worlds when we have strong networks on both sides of the border.

And finally, I often playfully reassure my Canadian family and friends that while “you can take the girl out of Canada, you can’t take Canada out of the girl”. But, jokes aside, I’ve learned that you can actually “make room” to become a more well-rounded and diverse individual. And at this critical time in our history, being American does that for me.

So, to my motherland: thank you for providing so much to make me the person that I am. And to my new homeland: thank you for welcoming me with open arms. As I truly believe that we are global citizens, this citizenship affords me more freedom to make a greater impact in the world.

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