Growing up has made me realise one thing for sure: that I am proud of where I’m from. Not that I particularly cared for the Isle of Man when I was younger, in fact, the endless annual trips around the local tourist sites became tiresome. And endless (seriously, in ways of history and culture the Manx do it well!) Every summer my step dad would buy an annual family ticket which allowed you access to all the Manx Heritage sites: Peel Castle, Castle Rushen, the Laxey Wheel and all the rest.
When you hit 16, you grow out of it.
But coming to university is usually the clincher. University, or generally moving away off the island, proves the Manx from the “come overs” and the inbetween:
The Manx: These are the ones who can trace their ancestry back to… Well, let’s just say there’s no “come overs” in their blood line. They could have a slightly snobbery side to them- or at least an alcoholic islander’s version of snobbery- like my grandad who put up a fight every time my mum dated someone who wasn’t a Manx. Otherwise they could be like a few of my friends who just didn’t know how to live off the island. Those who chose to attempt university generally ran back home straight after Freshers and began courses at the Isle of Man College or with Open University. It’s the smallness of the island that they need, their family around them and simply knowing everyone one. We don’t do “meeting new people” well.
The Inbetweens: This is where I count myself. When you talk about those who take advantage of the Isle of Man Government paying our tuition fees, it’s generally in order to escape. For us, there’s nothing left on the island that we haven’t done/seen/heard and we want to see how the other half lives. Add into that the select courses the College is able to offer compared to the vastness of the degrees available across the water and we’re hooked. However we don’t just get up and forget. Just today I had a conversation with a guy at work who was once stationed at Jurby airfield and wow, did he get the “come over” label shouted about wherever he went. I wasn’t surprised, in fact I told him the island hadn’t changed very much since them. We’re still very much stuck with our values. And I know that in a few years I’ll move back, but first I want to establish myself, and my career, where the opportunity is.
The Come Overs: Now, I don’t use this label as the one that I named in the above paragraph. But it’s a similar concept. A “come over” in the Isle of Man is someone who isn’t Manx and moves to the island. For us, that’s a big change- like I said, the Manx are stuck in their ways. Not that we’re not nice or anything, but it might be a shock to the system depending on who you are, what you’re like, where you’re from… Typical for anywhere I guess. But in this case, I refer to someone who literally does escape off the island. And this is actually quite rare. In this case, I mean someone who leaves and never mentions their heritage. In fact, if say they were half Manx and half English, they would refer to themselves as solely English as I would refer to myself as solely Manx.
The one person I met who introduced me to that type of person claimed he hated the island and he was planning to move to New York, and if someone is planning that big you know they want to escape. He managed to make it to the south of England last I heard. But in my head, it surprises me; you hear some people saying they “hate” their parents and families, their “friends” have ruined their lives, that’s not uncommon for such a small island… But the fact it is so small means that either it’ll blow over as soon as the next bit of gossip hits the stand (which’ll most likely be the next day) or you can let it destroy you. But by denying that, to me, is denying who you are.
And in my opinion, the last person you should regret being is yourself.