Daily Post Topic #346:
How do you define your own identity?
We are all born into cultures, families and communities with certain values we naturally inherit. But in order to figure out who we are, we have to revisit those inherited values, and decide for ourselves what to believe, or what to value. Simply believing something because our parents or teachers did assumes they were right, and if they made the same assumption about their parent’s and teachers, when exactly did someone sit down and consider the alternatives?
How can a person define their own identity? Is it good to do this? Why or why not?
I’m going to answer the culture part of this question because it has shaped who I am and helped to instill the values which I live by and, strangely, this is a question that I had already been thinking about over the past couple of days after discovering 3rdculturechildren’s blog. I have always struggled with the question “Where are you from?”, not because I don’t know but because I don’t really know how to decide where I’m from. It’s an easy question for my husband, he was born and bred in Basingstoke and even when he moved out of his parents’ house he still stayed in Hampshire until we moved 240 miles north 10 years ago. If you ask my son, he should say Basingstoke too but since he has spent 10 of his 17 years in York, he may say that instead.
Me? I was born in a London Borough with a postal address of Kent – doesn’t that just complicate things already? Am I from Kent or south-east London? We then moved sometime before my sister was born to East Sussex and emigrated to Australia when I was 2. That started a whole lot of travelling for me – Australia, Bahrain, Malawi, Botswana, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe – between the ages of 2 and 18. I went to school in Bahrain and Malawi but came back to the UK to boarding school at the age of 10 when we moved to Botswana. I went to school in another London Borough but this time with a postal address of Surrey.
So, I usually say that I am from south London but have been influenced by the places that I have lived, especially Africa and Hong Kong as they are the places I have the most memories. This, apparently, makes me a Third Culture Kid as I was born into my parents’ culture but due to the experiences of different cultures during my childhood I have my own different culture. 3rdculturechildren explains the term Third Culture Kid very well in her blog. However, when we go away to other countries etc I just say that I am from York as, having spent a lot of time with my Yorkshire grandmother while I was at boarding school, I felt like I was coming home when we moved here.