Being Multi-Cultural & Finding your Identity
During our early adulthood, we explore to find what our purpose is and create our own individual identity. Some of that identity is dependent on our gender, where we live, our social influences and what we do for a living. A major part of our identity also comes from our cultural influences and backgrounds. Our family’s history and beliefs help to shape many of our core beliefs and also how others treat us.
Being multi-cultural can be fun and fascinating-- you have so many cultural influences, exciting practices and delicious food treats. However, what can be difficult is understanding where you fit in within the two worlds?
Beliefs and Values
Within each culture there are specific beliefs and values that are passed from generation to generation. They may evolve or adjust to modern times, but the foundation in every culture is present. As we establish our identities these beliefs determine what choices we make and what direction we pursue.
However, when balancing multiple cultural influences, your beliefs will start to challenge and contradict one another. Your families may not see eye to eye and this can be disruptive to your process. Or you may not feel like anyone on either side of your family understands your dichotomous views, which can distance you from both cultural influences.
In addition, there are stereotypes or prejudices that each culture confronts. These perspectives of another culture can be positive or negative. If multi-cultural, these beliefs can conflict with each other and cause a lot of confusion for one person.
Being multi-racial also confronts the struggles of being physically different than your family and community. When we cannot find something we identify with physically, people tend to distance themselves from others. There is a certain oddity that makes multi-racial people stand out from others that look alike.
Our physical appearance is what helps tie us to our families. Humans innately link that when we look like each other, we must have shared bloodline or heritage. However, when we look drastically different from our families, people disconnect and don’t find a common feature they can resonate with.
Defining culture and having an identity!
Understanding how to navigate these cultural nuances can be detrimental to how we find identify and self-worth. We want to embrace our cultural differences but still find belonging in our general community and family! Finding ways to challenge these contradictions can be difficult and require practice, but can ultimately support with creating a new identity and be assure that your presence is powerful and meaningful.
Some tips to help with feeling whole and your true self:
1. Be assertive with your family and friends. Vocalize when you feel excluded from the family or when you don’t agree with what they are generalizing.
2. Practice the cultural backgrounds that align and feel good with your beliefs.
3. Challenge stigmas and beliefs that make you uncomfortable or are just down right incorrect.
4. Honor both or all your racial and cultural backgrounds by understanding them, learn about them from your own research and what your family brings to the table.