When it comes to my race, I am conflicted. My Armenian mother has brought me up in the ways of Armenian language, dance, food, music, and tradition. And, I’ve been blessed with such a unique heritage to explore.
But, I cannot forget my other half stemming from my father. A medley of European descent, I’ve not been able to gravitate towards one specific culture as I have with my Armenian side.
But, this means that things get complicated. When I am around my Armenian friends, I feel almost unqualified, like because I am not full-blooded I can’t fully take part in the culture. Even though I stand in solidarity with my people, I feel like I don’t completely belong. This happens especially with the language. I attended Friday Armenian language classes growing up and learned a bit on my own. But, there is this giant insecurity when it comes to speaking the language with people aside from my family. Even though I can speak properly, I still feel insignificant and un-proficient compared to these people who’ve grown up speaking the language at home with both parents consistently. Add on the hundreds of different dynamics of the Armenian culture itself and it becomes a disaster.
The same goes for my other side of the family, the other side of my identity. Although it is by no means as intense a culture as Armenian, I feel displaced when carrying out traditional American things.
It’s all very confusing and becomes frustrating. As a mixed-race young person, I feel as though I don’t belong anywhere. It’s difficult, because as hard as you try to fit in with one side of your heritage, you’re never really there.
It leads to questions such as, “How do I approach embracing this new culture?” or “Who am I going to date?” or even “Shoot…Do I make pasta or dolma for dinner?”
For me, it is impossible to fully embrace one side and push away the other side. It’s against the laws of human nature. It’s a curse and it’s a blessing. But, maybe just maybe, you can build an identity bridging the two together. It’s complicated and equally exasperating. But, that’s what I’m working on, and what I’ll be working on for the rest of my life.
I’m a college student and I’m exploring. I am learning new languages, not my native ones. I am going to seminars and listening to accounts from places I’ve never been. I am spending my Friday nights listening to bachata music or playing Magic with my friends. These things are important, and they don’t have to be centered around my identity at all, do they?
I also think its beautiful that Christ says “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). Ultimately, what matters is not how frustrated you are with yourself and your identities. But instead, at the feet of God all of this notion of yourself fades away as everyone is welcomed into His love.
So, I guess I’ll try to get lost in the disaster. But I know that it’s not the end of all things. It’s definitely not the hardest things to deal with in this life. And it certainly is not something I cannot find a way to approach…A skill that I’ve been using more and more these days.