How to keep your identity in workplace and/or university?

Asked by anon (Algeria) - 4 weeks ago

I was wondering how important your identity was for you and how you you made sure that you kept it, when you're constantly surrounded by western culture? I don't mean to say that western culture is bad, it's just that I found that when I left home to go to university I definitely felt myself start to lose a lot of the identity I cultivated growing up in an urdu-speaking house. There weren't many asians or muslims at my uni so my friendship group was very mixed in terms of beliefs and identities. At a certain point i started to notice it slip away and although now i'm back home with my family, I'm just wondering what it will be like when I start work or my younger sister goes to university. Did you experience this at all and how did you adapt?

1 Answer

Junaid Ashraf - 4 weeks ago

Throughout my political journey, from youth parliament to mainstream politics, I have always known my roots and boundaries* so have never felt any sort of inability to stay true to myself. [*boundaries is the word I use for want of a different phrase as I don't believe not drinking is a boundary but a personal choice and I don't think we should view these aspects of life we don't engage with as limitations]

I would like to say that I have never felt any desire from other people for me to change, but this isn't true. Even from my earlier days in youth work many of the other young people tried to encourage me to drink, even someone handing me a glass of fanta that he had mixed with vodka. Lucky for me I'm not the biggest fan of fanta or else I might have taken it from him. And these pressures have only increased the longer I have remained within my field where many meetings/events are held quite often in settings with bars and freely available drink.

Overall, my advice to you and your sister would be to know what makes you feel comfortable/uncomfortable within your professional/personal/family circumstances and listen to the people around you who you trust to guide you to stay true to your cultural norms. I listen to my older siblings for advice, my parents and a safety circle of other BAME friends I had whilst at university. Actively choosing to invest your time in people that you admire for their qualities should be something you should be looking to do amongst your circles.

Simply, if you're posing the question that you feel that you are losing your identity and this bothers you - then who are you spending time with and why? No one forces you to have the friends you have and within most campuses/courses regardless of the lack of representation, there will be people with similar interests and values as you on campus somewhere - so make the choice to spend more time with them, and keep the professional university relationships for studying for what it is (as study mates).

8 points

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