Growing Up: The downside of breaking out from your cultural norm
It’s no question that throughout the years, you get to learn yourself better, you get to see the world better or wider. The past three and a half years of living abroad, I have come to realised a lot of things about life or growing up, I’m not talking about how to figure out life because that’s a dead end. I’m specifically talking about how travelling and living in a completely different environment have affected the way I think, that way I look at the world, its citizens. How I react from what a stranger just said or how my childhood friend reacted in different situations. Simply what are the pros and cons of breaking out from my own cultural norms?
Living in Europe has changed the way I think and respond to every situation. The conservative Filipino culture has started to be questionable in my head. I always have been an unusual girl or the rebel one, I’ll sneak out of the house to hang out with friends, I tried smoking and drinking on my early teen life. I stopped listening to the Church mass even I was physically there. I dressed up as I want to, I speak up my mind. All these have been what the culture I grew up considered unacceptable.
I’m not here to compare two different culture, that is something the least I want to do. Because I personally believe in cultural difference, which is something you cannot just question easily and expect everyone to agree with your opinion. There are many things that I love about travelling, but it has also its own downsides like anything else.
What are the downsides of breaking out from my own cultural norm?
People Will See You Differently
One of my travel friends once told me this “I always forget you are Filipino, I see you as a Danish girl”. I didn’t know if it supposed to be a compliment rather than an insult. The truth is, I love what I learned from Danish culture, the fact that it’s okay to be in love with the same sex as you and get married, divorce is not as bad as it was in the past, respecting someone’s personal space, the amount of freedom you get to express yourself, or even your sexual orientation. You can be the person who you want to be and no one will question that, not even your parents.
Disconnecting From Your Roots
Coming home was not easy, especially staying here for a while. It has taken a lot of adjustment to the environment, people, food, currency, rules, and of course, the mindset of the locals. Someone told me not to (exercise) bring the European norms I have learned to absorb. I was not offended, it was the confirmation I have been waiting to actually realised I don’t belong here anymore.
I get to come from agreeing to disagreeing with my old friends, there are times that I’d rather not give out my opinion to keep a cool atmosphere and just agree. I can feel that I’m starting to lose my friends and it scares me, I now have only a few friends back here, a few people who keep me connected to my roots. Most of the time, I thought of just leaving again than be home and have to remind myself not to offend anyone because of the way I think. I’d rather be lost in a new place than be here and having a constant argument with myself and people around me.
Noticing The Flaws
After travelling and living abroad for 3.5 years, I eventually went home and stayed for 5 months, I can’t help but notice the flaws of the culture I grew up. I started questioning myself how come Filipinos don’t get that it’s wrong. I couldn’t bear in mind that such hate still exists or the fact that there are tonnes of Filipinos who are still closed minded.
The thing is, I cannot just barge in and recite every single thing I don’t agree with how everything works in my home country. I have no right to do that, these people have their own fair share in expressing their opinions and what they are fighting for. It’s my job to open my mind and respect everyone’s opinions, even though, I clearly see something is not right. People think differently, deal with things differently. I felt like I’m an outsider in my own homeland.
You Are Not You – not anymore
When you get to break-out from the cultural norm you grew up to, there’s no going back. The world has changed you, your experiences have moulded you, you became a new person. And it will be hard to look back and imagine the person you used to. Every little thing that is not falling on your own cultural standard will make you cringe and guilty at the same time.
But You Are Still You
Being able to break out from my cultural norm doesn’t mean I’m better than anyone. I’m not one step ahead of you nor one step behind. I think, being able to break out from my cultural norm made me see the world differently, it’s a nice feeling to have an open mind as I meet more people, as I brave a new culture. It helps me to understand who I want to be, what I want to do and how I want to give back to the world.
Did you able to break out from your cultural norms? What are the pros and cons?
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