Identity and belonging is something many struggle with, especially those who are either displaced or choose to move away from where they grew up. Others have it by having lived or travelled abroad for long periods. This can also be felt by those who live within their culture of origin, either through social oppression or a sense of ‘being different’ or ‘not fitting in’.
Today I realised that there is not one but various aspects of me, gained though my lived experience, which strive to find a sense of belonging. I thought that the therapeutic journey was partially about finding ways of nourishing and loving oneself and strengthening one’s ‘core’, so that external factors have less of an impact on one’s sense of self. Whilst this is true, I also believe in the importance of nourishing various aspects of ourselves through meeting others who are like-minded; whilst also being aware that no one group or one person will ever encompass and be able to relate to all of these parts.
There is something wonderful about relating to the diversity in others and yet a longing remains to find places and people with whom I feel accepted and ‘at home’, through similarities in cultural background, profession, age, gender, sexuality, lifestyle and worldview. Having lived in different countries, my inclination has always been to absorb the culture I lived in and forget my own in order to belong and ‘fit in’. This has left me feeling somewhat lost in myself and with a sense of not really knowing who I am. Whilst I still believe that it is important to integrate in the culture you are in, my experience is that it is equally important to stay true to who you are and seek those who are positively affirming of you.
I have experienced my own culture at times as too patriarchal and homophobic, finding refuge in and embracing the more egalitarian and tolerant Northern European way of thinking. Yet, there are positive aspects of my own cultural background and upbringing which I truly miss.
This is a process of understanding where I come from and who I am now; a fusion of both worlds.