The question of identity is always a difficult one for those living in a culture or group, yet belonging to another. This difficulty frequently remains in the mind of most immigrants, especially the second generations who were born in a country other than their parents. Younger generations feel as if they are forced to change to fit the social standards despite previous culture or group. Furthermore those who wish to adopt a new identity of a group or culture haven’t yet been fully accepted by original members due to their former identity. Living with a different culture to our roots can lead to changes in our lives.
Migrating to Australia has affected a lot of authors from Alice Pung’s vignettes of ‘Growing up Asian in Australia’. Michelle Law displays her exclusion from the Australian culture by preparing ‘exotic lunches’ with her mother, as well as her ‘hairless’ Chinese body compared to the school girls. Being seen as a distinct outsider to the Australian culture can influence one to change their way of life to fit in and form friendships. Sunil an Indian schoolboy was faced with the choice of constantly being bullied over his differences or adapting to the community by altering his name to Neil.
Changing for others an lose your place in your original identity and culture. After visiting Hong Kong, Michelle momentarily feels identical to her surroundings with her Chinese ethnicity. After mispronouncing words when ordering at a Cantonese Mc Donald’s, Michelle comes to realise that she feels just as excluded in Hong Kong as she did in Australia. This sense of displacement caused by multiple cultures can question Michelle’s judgement, “Am I more Asian or more Australian? ” The feeling of not fitting in can lead us to changes in our life to fit social standards despite our previous culture or way of life.
Alice Pung addresses the idea of multiculturalism in her novel ‘Unpolished Gem’. Two of the themes in this novel where she portrays her culture are through personal identity and the impact of the past. A major influence on Alice’s identity was when she was a young child and her grandmother would tell her stories about events that occurred in Cambodia. In Alice’s teenage years, her beloved grandmother has a stroke, developed disabilities and eventually had passed away. It is around this time where serious psychological problems occur for Alice.
This almost forces her into a mental state in which she knows she does not fit in with the Australian culture. She believed she had to do everything she could to change that otherwise Alice knew she would break down mentally. Alice was forced to attempt to fit the social standards of Australia. The actions of adopting a new identity by putting yourself into a different group can lead to not only the new group not fully accepting you but also your original group will see you as a totally different person.
At the age of 13 I played basketball for the under 14s side. We were all very close and had formed great friendships throughout the season. The following season I was asked to play above my age group. Without thinking twice I accepted what I thought was a great opportunity. A few days pasted and it was the day of my first training session with the older group. Throughout the 2 hours of training I did not enjoy myself at all. No one would pass me the ball and it was as if they didn’t want me there.
To be honest I didn’t want to be there neither. I decided to return to my own age group and play with my old friend. At the next training session with my original team I realized the same thing was happening, no one would pass me the ball or even acknowledge that I was on the court. It turns out I had changed as a person and found myself caught between the two teams. The moral of that experience was by trying to fit in with a new group I found that I had lost my original identity and forgot where I belong.
There are a variety of scenarios that result in us trying to change. Whether it is a result of a different culture or even past experiences. People also feel as if they are forced upon change, and even if you find yourself with a new identity or culture, you may not be fully accepted by original members of that group or culture. The power of a group however is often the cause of losing our individual identity. In conclusion the question remains of whether Change of an identity is right or wrong?