Writing a self-reflective tirade is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks to perform. I have found myself pondering this topic for an unusually long time; no one has ever asked me to write about my culture– the one thing about myself which I understand the least. This question which is so easy for others to answer often leads me into a series of convoluted explanations, “I was born in the U.S., but lived in Pakistan since I was six. My brothers moved to the US when I was thirteen” I am now nearly twenty, which means I have spent half my life being Pakistani, the other half trying to be American, or is the other way around?
I do not consider myself Paki-American. I am too “Americanized” to be Pakistani. (although by birthright, I am American), and I am not quite up to par with the American way of life. So what does all this have to do with my culture, what does a label really matter to cultural identity? It matters much. I believe that this seemingly trivial confusion over labels reveals the even greater confusion that surrounds my cultural identity: Am I a bridge between these two multifaceted cultures, or have I become a mosaic displaying colors from here and there, and elsewhere too? Perhaps both, and I could be a colorful bridge, or perhaps neither. Whatever the case, I cannot seem to separate these absolutely disparate realities within me. Their forces are still clashing, coming together within me, creating a wonderful confusion out of me. I believe that to truly analyze my culture, the roots of this confusion must be explored. In the span of this essay, I must try to encompass the widths of two worlds, their unique interactions within me… which I hope constitute what is called culture.
I am an alien of sorts. I am an alien in my own country… but what is my own country? I am an alien wherever I go. In Pakistan, my somewhat eroded Urdu reveals my American leanings. In the U.S., my slight accent and appearance mark me as a “minority.”
Being bi-cultural has placed me in a perplexing portal between two separate worlds, with their own unique ideology, thinking, traditions and way of life. It helps me understand the relationship that exists between such cultures; and how they differ.
My personality and identity has been molded from these separate cultures. Being the odd one out has its own blessing, you know. I have derived from such experiences, the art of diplomacy, and a sense of understanding. As I have matured through life, I have learned a lot. However, one aspect which will always remain gray for me is my identity.