What is “home”?

12 February 2020
2 min read

A sense of home is tied to so many different things. From your cultural or ethnic origin to where you physically live to who you surround yourself with.

My understanding of what "home" means has evolved throughout my life. I've grown up in different countries with a cultural identity that was in the minority (and currently live in one where that's the case too). A bit of a nomad, I've learned to stand up "home" wherever I go. And so it begs the question what does "home" really mean to me?

I used to think that home meant a place.

I’m Indian by ethnicity, Emirati by birth (born in Dubai), and American by citizenship. Even after moving to the US, I haven't lived in a single place for longer than 4 years. It's allowed me to create many memories but only hold attachment to cities based on the people I surrounded myself with at the time I was there and the activities that city may have allowed us to do (because of the geography).

I used to think that home meant a person.

When I was young (and naive), I thought that my sense of home comes from the people I'm around (which is true to some extent). I pledged my love to someone, and was willing to move wherever he wanted to go because "he was home". But of course, we went our separate ways in life and I lost my home. This has happened multiple times throughout the course of my life, and so it's made me come to realize that there has to be more than home being attached to a particular person (or people).

I used to think that home meant a feeling.

Maybe home is the feeling you get when you're surrounded by your things. I felt this when I moved to Australia and waited 3 months to be able to be surrounded by MY things. Those things were mine and consistent from my old lifestyle to the new life I was about to set up. But feelings from material things don't entirely encapsulate the meaning of home either.

Now I realize that home is within myself.

It's some combination of all three of things. Places that allow you to do the things you love, people that love and support you, and some number of material things you carry with you that reflect your personal identity. Nesting is the act of creating (or re-creating) that sense of home or belonging for yourself, wether that means finding our tribe, window shopping, or adventuring and exploring your new neighborhood.

Amazon Design released a wonderful publication titled Pi that covers the concept of home that originally inspired this post.


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I acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians on whose land I live, play, and work. I pay my deepest respects to all Indigenous Elders past, present and emerging.

© Feb 2024 Vinita Israni
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