Thursday, May 5, 2011

Expectations & the Cultural Divide

I used to think that it was the age gap that created the severe miscommunication between my generation and those which precede us. Increasingly, I am starting to feel that within my own society, and more so within my own family, it is the cultural divide that has created this glaring black hole of misunderstanding and despair. Fairly dramatic, I know, but it is undeniable that it is ‘friction’ like this that shapes our personalities and in effect, our lives.

This post immerses itself in topics a lot bigger than I am, or than I could ever tackle. It’s incredibly humbling and daunting in turn. The obvious question here is, however, how I could fail to identify with my own society? With my own family?
The answer is, I do, but I don’t
As I move on with my life, growing within my career, my relationships and experiences, I find myself feeling more alienated than ever before. I question this feeling often - am I creating the barrier? Am I rebelling against societal expectations needlessly? Is this what everyone tends to feel during what’s strongly considered as an ‘experimental’ stage of life? If so, then is this experimentation (cultural, societal, social, etc) going to forever be frowned upon by the more culturally bound? 
I know all of these questions and theories are relative, especially in seeing how unique mine, and every individual’s, personal journey, background and societal draw points are. But this is exactly my point - is this integration of cultures, this broad ‘world-tasting’ creating stronger, more distinguished personalities? Or is it simply succeeding in further separating us from the world we were first born into, creating a divide that is often painful to bridge? 
I love my family and I love my culture. I can’t be grateful enough for the good life I’ve been granted through their hard work, and duly, they’ve instilled their values and work ethic in my siblings and I. Jordan will always be home to me, in some respect. I will always have a place to call home. However, this is also how I feel about Australia; it gave me my education, it gave me life experiences that have largely shaped who I am today. It gave me love, friendship and laughter. I also owe a lot of this to Qatar, the country that witnessed most of my childhood, the United Arab Emirates, where I was born, and all the countries I have been privileged enough to experience during my life thus far. 
Is it not our personal duty to this world in which we live, to take what is beautiful to us and embrace it? Is it unrealistic to expect this concept to be understood by the culturally constrained? If so, until when?
More and more, I feel like a citizen of the world. I know you cringed, but this is truly the state in which I find myself. I don’t identify with one culture and one belief. I identify with many and none simultaneously. This is both a blessing and a curse.  I ask many questions, many of which, I fear, will never be answered. I don’t think anything terrifies me quite as much as this realisation. 


  1. So I had written a super long comment about how I can relate with you and how I think the way you are approaching your interaction with so many cultures the right way...but of course it wouldn't let me post it.

    I don't think anybody can tell you that being a global citizen is a bad thing. Loving one country is not mutually exclusive from loving another.

    This quote seems relevant to me for this case at least:
    True Love in this differs from gold and clay,
    That to divide is not to take away.

  2. People are expected to be identified via an easy description. The "global citizen" or, "hi, Im Reem, Im Australian and Jordanian but I sound like an American and live in the Arabian Gulf" is not a comfortable answer.

    The masses are uncomfortable with what they aren't familiar with.

    I love that little quote :)

  3. Ben Pendrey (Penders1)June 5, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    A past relationship taught me that to be a bridge between two quite different cultures can be a strain, either because the person cannot reconcile the two differences within themselves, or perhaps in your case, cannot get others to reconcile the perceived difference.

    I think we try to put people in boxes because it's a quick way of finding shared-values. It's the "how close to my tribe are you?" question that we're unconsciously asking for recognition of common experience. Perhaps it's a primitive fear response, looking for safety in numbers, but that's me speculating.

    When (some of) the masses are uncomfortable/disorientated with multi-national origins, then all you can do is guide them by bringing them to the common ground of shared movies, music, interests etc.