Photo by CandaceHunter,

Being a Cultural Patchwork

I grew up amongst some dedicated patchwork quilters. The work was too fiddly to appeal to me; I liked craftwork that gave more instant gratification. The quilters demonstrated seemingly infinite patience, and an ability to match varying patterns and colours in their beautiful creations.

Are you a pattern person? Or do you prefer block colours? A minimalist or eclectic? How many ‘pieces’ are there to your stylistic preferences? What about your personality?

Those of us who grew up amongst transition and multiple cultural environments have the ultimate cultural patchwork personalities. Except that instead of the quilters’ carefully selected squares of complimentary colours and shapes, each of our cultural worlds contribute their own distinct dimension to that which is ‘Us’, and these sometimes clash with each other! But, like any creative piece, as unexpected and tension-filled as it might be, its beauty is increased with understanding.

If we were to investigate our cultural patchwork’s component elements, what would we find? Where would each element find its cultural influence?

When you are excited, how do you express yourself? Which cultures from your story express excitment this way?

Which national (or international) holidays matter to you? Which cultures from your story have impacted these choices?

How do you ‘do’ sadness? Which cultures from your story express sadness this way?

What does friendship look like to you? Where was this first modelled for you?

What does ‘healthy‘ look/feel like to you? Which cultures from your story sees healthy the same way?

What does illness or stress look/feel like to you? Which cultures from your story express illness and stress this way?

How do you do conflict? Which cultures from your story do conflict in similar ways?

How do you love? Which cultures from your story expresses love this way?

What does community mean to you? Where was community first experienced like this for you?

What does making someone feel ‘at ease’ look like for you? Which cultures from your story host or welcome like this?

Isn’t it a thing of beauty? All our pieces coming together and making sense! They don’t all ‘go’. But they are all our pieces. Our experiences. And understanding their origins helps to make sense of our stories. And the magic of this is that when we understand our own stories, we are better able to communicate them to others – helping them to understand us too.

If we are relating cross-culturally, we are likely to be doing this across multiple platforms, as multiple as our cultural influences and as the elements of our Selves are varied… We are marvellously complex; but that’s the innate beauty of a cultural patchwork.

You are the only one who can tell your Story… so spend some time exploring and investing in your complexity. If you’d like some support in doing this, do get in touch here. I’d love to hear from you!


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