Navigating a Bicultural Identity: Embracing the Best of Both Worlds
By: Christine Yi
As someone from a multicultural background, it can be difficult to fully embrace and live in both cultures daily. I know I’m not alone in this struggle, as many people with multicultural backgrounds encounter similar challenges when it comes to identifying their true selves. It’s common for us to prioritize our most familiar culture and make that our primary way of living.
Is it necessary for me to maintain my bicultural identity for my life? As someone who identifies with two different cultures, I strongly believe that a balance between the two is necessary to establish a distinct sense of self. Why is it important to preserve both cultures? Preserving both cultures allows individuals to have a complete sense of self-awareness and personal identity. This includes taking the best elements from both cultures and incorporating them into an individual’s own identity while respecting the traditions and values of each culture. This would also help to gain a deeper understanding of oneself and value the traditions and beliefs rooted in family’s heritage and history, while also embracing the opportunities and values of our current culture. In doing so, people can connect with others who share similar experiences and perspectives while embracing their unique cultural backgrounds and identity. Though it is impossible to perfectly maintain the two cultures, we should strive to keep the two cultures closely connected.
I was born in America and have lived there since I was 5 years old. I then moved back to South Korea and lived for about 11 years before returning to America at the age of 16. This resulted in me living in two different countries and experiencing two very distinct cultures. Honestly, both cultures were completely different from one another. I lacked the courage to explore other cultures on my own, feeling trapped and hovering in my own bubble. As I become more acquainted with both cultures, reflecting on the past, I realize that I have always faced challenges in getting closer to other cultures.
For example, America is a sociable nation where individuals often interact with those whom they are not very familiar with. I found it surprising that Americans tend to use physical contact, like handshakes and hugs, quite often. On the other hand, in Korea, people generally do not engage in as much physical contact. Instead, they typically greet each other by bowing. By learning and practicing the greetings of two different cultures, I have been able to incorporate them into my daily life with confidence.