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The Two Facets of One Coin: Culture and Self

on June 15, 2011

Have you ever thought of writing about yourself? What would come up first in your mind? Is it possible that you have long thought of yourself as a mere trivial human being with no ‘accomplishments’ in life? Think about it; you will be amazed at the depth of knowledge you have built around your life journey.
My values and beliefs are, the outcome of my cultural and personal upbringing. In fact, talking about one’s culture cannot be taken out of the context of the self. Since I am no sociologist, I think that my efforts to write about my Eastern culture just might turn into a mess. But I still will give it try.

In Egypt, my homeland, victory goes for whatever is eastern and conservative. So, an Eastern girl is typically lovely, tender, cute, conservative, prudent, shy, honest and submissive. However, my parents took it one notch further by adding ambition, outstanding, creative and unique to the ingredients of my character. They very much believe that a girl should not merely be a sister, wife and mother; she should not always dedicate herself to ‘others’, but she’s got to be herself first. Here I am again mixing what is cultural with what is personal!

I might be a typical Eastern girl, not only because of my brunette complexion, but also because of the values we share in this part of the world:

# 1: I pay TOO much attention to what people think. Although I might seem to be independent, I tend to look up to people around me (more than I should). Their thoughts of me shape my view about myself. My most desperate moments are when a friend criticizes me. Alternatively, my most joyous moments are when people pay me compliments. I don’t like hypocrites though, I only appreciate honest opinions.

# 2: Treat everyone equal. When I was a child, I used to play this weird game of justice where amongst my 5 fingers, the thumb was crowned judge over all other fingers, due to its anatomic difference. This Judge had to be just and fair to all his subjects; so whenever he touched one finger, he had to make sure to touch the other four! — and I would play this game dozens of times a day, touching each finger with my thumb repeatedly! This breed honesty in me, a value instilled by my upbringing and possibly heightened by my personal characteristics. Now as a mother, I fear to kiss one of my kids in a way that is different from the other. I know this sounds weird but it helped me perform jobs the way they ought to be done.

Continue reading http://www.duniamagazine.com/2011/06/the-two-facets-of-one-coin-culture-and-self/

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