Who Am I Really?
One of the exciting effects of the revolution that’s taking place in our society today is the number of voices - strong, independent, articulate voices - that express opinions that stir something in us.
They speak to us in a way that says
‘yes, that’s it, that’s me. That’s what I was thinking but I couldn’t find the words to express it in quite that way’
‘is that true? That explains so much. I didn’t know, but it helps me make sense of it’
‘this hits to the heart of me. This is my truth.’
But there are also those voices that make us think
‘I get what you’re saying, but it doesn’t feel right’
‘I know I’m supposed to agree with this, but it makes me uncomfortable and I don’t know why because what s/he is saying makes sense’
‘I know I should feel that way, but I don’t. But I really want to’
Sometimes I realise I’ve caught myself agreeing with two fundamentally different viewpoints. They are so eloquent, so powerful in their arguments that I feel conflicted. And then I feel frustrated at my inconsistency. It took me a while to make peace with it.
Because I used to see that as a weakness. As proof I could be swayed by any argument. But actually, if we flip the perspective (a term very familiar to those that know me), it can be seen as a sign of strength. An expression of willingness to hear the other side of the story and to make my own sense of things, based on all the information I have available to me. It helps me understand where the other person is coming from and, most importantly, it doesn’t detract from my own voice.
Cultural identity is hugely important, but I think it’s sometimes forgotten that it’s also deeply personal. It’s unique to who we are.
If I have an opinion on something within my culture, it’s because my experiences have created that, and if it’s different to the cultural norm it’s not a betrayal of where I come from.
But I understand it can sometimes feel like it. I’ve often thought of how my clients see me. What they assume I think about things. Talking to a BAME counsellor about BAME experiences is easier in some ways, but can be more difficult because of the assumptions we make about their experiences. So I’m happy to talk about those, because I understand it helps give context. But not a lot.
Because it’s not about my journey, it’s about yours. Your opinions, as conflicted as they might feel, make sense, and therapy can help you understand how. This isn’t about taking a label and sticking it to yourself to define you. It’s about defining yourself and what is going on for you, and accepting how valid that is.