I have been torn between two worlds ever since I was eighteen years old.  I am now thirty eight years old and still lost between being someone from the so called “third world country” and someone who is as American as so called “apple pie”.  Why and how I have reached this point in my life, I don't  know or maybe I just don't care!  But one thing is very obvious … I am confused with who I am … I am confused  with what I am.  Of course, I have two beautiful children whom I love more than anything in this world and I also have a very good education and a very good job and so on and so forth.  But why do I still feel so lost ??  Sometimes I wish I was a one-culture person like most people in the United States as opposed to the two-culture fellow that I am.

Maybe I'm a lone voice in this wilderness (which I very much doubt), but I think there is something to be said about those people who migrated to the United States back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  It really doesn't matter where they migrated from; but I bet a lot of those teenagers, who are now in their 30’s or 40’s, are going through the same thing I am.
Well, its almost as if I have two personalities or maybe I should say two diverse parts.  You know what's ironic is that I can completely understand both of them.  If I divided my age in half, which is the two parts, here is how it would look:

... my first half is my childhood, my growing up in another country/culture, my high school friends, my family, my grandmother taking me to the movies, riding my bike for years, playing soccer and other games with neighbors kids in the streets, sitting on the floor around a table cloth and eating dinner with my brother and sisters, communicating with everyone around me in that other language which I can still use to read and write, my religious training, my dreams, and most importantly the home I grew up in.

... and then there is my second half.  Coming to America, my adulthood, learning a new culture, learning English as a second language, going to college, getting a job, becoming independent, marrying an American, becoming a US Citizen, buying a house, having kids, buying a van, and basically fulfilling the so called “American Dream”!

I think almost anyone who is now going through their mid-life years can probably divide their life into two parts but only those who were teenage immigrants can truly get in touch with their two diverse parts.  Furthermore, they have to listen and acknowledge each part on a daily basis or else it will create an imbalance.

I am not a shrink but it is obvious that all of us have emotional and I guess psychological needs.  The only question is how do we meet those needs?  For example, when I get angry, I need to express it or even allow myself to feel it.  A one-culture person would simply express their emotions by shouting (using their single language); but a two-culture person has to consciously make a decision as to which part to listen to and which part to ignore.  Do I shout in my native language or do I express my emotions in English?  One part always ends up in control.  Let us start calling them part A (native culture) and part B (American culture).  Sounds like a movie sequel and I know it's hard to imagine but think about it.  Also, let us differentiate between people who truly possess both parts (two-culture) and those who do not (one-culture) or for short 2C and 1C.

Let's look at something as simple as every day conversations at work.  Bob, who is a 1C, asks me “What did you do on your weekend?”.  I, being a 2C, pause and say “oh...let me see”, “I took my kids to see a movie and also went swimming and... I guess that's it”, and then I quickly turn it over to him and ask “How was your weekend?”.  Needless to say that I skipped the part about playing an old card game with my 2C friends.  But you see, that was something I did which involved my part A.  Now if Vahid, who is a 2C,  asked me the same question, my answer would have probably been “I took Pedrom and Armon (my kids) to see a movie and went swimming, …also Mehrdad, Hassan, Behzad and I got together and played hokm (a card game from my native country) and let me tell you ...”.     I guess what I am saying is that we, 2C folks, are really controlled and always obey one of our two parts.  But we are also controlled if we are forced to sometime rebel against one of our two parts.

It's really hard to ignore when it lives inside your head!  You consciously make a decision to start listening to one part.  You might even hear it in your head!   At first, I tried to just ignore it and live a normal life like most people in America; but the older I got the harder it was to ignore the fact that I was a 2C.  Then, the more I thought about it, the angrier I got and sometime it would be so frustrating that I wanted to jump off a cliff !  but instead, I ended up divorcing  my 1C wife because of my part A.

September 1997

Kansas, USA