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Observing the World Through Cultural Identity

Who am I? Do you ever stop and ask yourself this question? Who am I in this everchanging world that tries to put me in a box and makes me wear a sticker so it can understand me?

The answer to this question has been different throughout my life. If you asked me, I would give you different answers. I identified as a student, a daughter, a friend, and someone who wants to make the world a better place. Sometimes, ‘’I am Ljubica,’’ is enough, but sometimes even that requires explanation. So many boxes you can put me in so you can handle me better or understand my story. But it is not as simple as that.

People are not things you sort out to organize the space around you. We are not one-dimensional. In fact, we are so many things, all of which influence how we see ourselves and the world around us.

One of the aspects of ourselves that we often oversee is our cultural background. What makes a culture? Music, clothes, customs and traditions, dances, law, and the list goes on. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more under the water that we don’t see, even about our own culture. How we were raised and schooled and the people we were around can make us who we are—more than we are aware of.

Because of that, someone might put you in a box that says ‘’loud,’’ ‘’annoying,’’ ‘’stylish,’’ or even ‘’crazy’’. The funny thing is that we will do it as well. It is okay. This doesn’t make us bad people. It only makes us human. As humans, we want to make sense of the world, which can be too crazy to deal with.

  • ‘‘This person loves Metallica.’’ That says so much about them.

  • ‘‘He doesn’t like cats.’’

Yes, we all do it from time to time, especially if someone’s habits and opinions are so different from ours. The issues arise when we forget or simply refuse to look past these differences and stick to our comfort zone to the extent that it eliminates the learning process.

Ah, the differences. These beautiful traits the world uses to divide and separate us into groups. Differences are indeed beautiful, but not when we use them to create an us-versus-them atmosphere.

  • They make pasta without salt.

  • We don’t do it that way.

  • We must be right, and they are not.

I invite you to look for the hidden parts of the culture. Go on a quest to discover what is under the sea. Look for the parts that annoy you; for parts that are so different from you, you must think they are at least strange. Look for them and try to understand them. That is when the learning begins, and you start discovering the world.

Who am I? Ask yourself this, and you may notice that some of your habits could be strange to someone else.

If you dig deep enough, you might understand that there is no us versus them; there never was. It has always been us and us, human beings who seem so different but are more similar than you are aware.

Go out there and explore the world. You will fall in love with it.

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