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Identity Crisis, Who am I? Part 1
by Ashley Hashampour
04/29/12
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I had studied in London for a year. During that year, I went through what I now call my "identity crisis" (sort of like a mid-life crisis would be but a few years earlier, I mean I'm only 22). I was a foreigner living in another country, in another culture and in another mindset. Have you ever had experiences where people pass judgement on you? I don't necessarily mean the type that's negative or insulting, rather when people make assumptions about you, your thoughts, your religion, life, etc. In short, have people ever put you in a box? Have you ever gotten the feeling you were the heading of a checklist, and they were going down the list to see if you fit into their box?

I experienced this everywhere I went. Until people heard my accent, they assumed I was British, Canadian, Indian, Spanish, Italian (that's partially true), Arab, the list goes on. Once I even got Albanian (I'm not too sure even where that is). I studied Middle East politics, which most have strong views on. My views were often standing alone, but many, including my professors would assume what I thought (or at least what I should think). Even on American politics, people would "school" me on how I should think (there's a lot of uninformed perceptions about people from the American south)because it was how they thought. When it came to religious beliefs, I came into some interesting conversations with people. Many assumed my religious beliefs based on how I looked (and my last name), not how I acted or what I said. I wasn't checking any of the boxes at all--it frustrated them and it frustrated me.

It's funny now, I had an argument with my Farsi language professor about what nationality I was. She was telling me I was Iranian (because my last name is Persian). I told her "No, I'm American. My parents are American." She got frustrated and so did I. We went another two times like this until she gave up. I couldn't help but think, "I think I know a little better than you who I am" (yeah I was low on grace that day). I had another incident with a girl who thought I didn't fully understand my thoughts on certain American political issues. She (being from another country) told me I was not as informed as her on the politics of my own country.... we had very different views in case you didn't catch on. That night, I had had it up to my neck with others, who didn't even know me, trying to tell me how I should think, act, believe, etc.

Finally, after my ranting and outrage the Lord spoke to me clear as day "Now you know how I feel when you put me in a box".

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