Cultural spaces can be created by many different aspects, varying from personal characteristics to life experiences. They’re something each person perceives individually and are not always a tangible environment. For each person, the many cultural spaces which they belong to can help them form their personal identity and find their place within each of those cultures. These spaces should also be the places in which you can feel comfortable being yourself and communicating with others freely.
Personally, I belong to many cultural spaces. Growing up in south Minneapolis as a white, heterosexual female of Northern European descent and Christian faith, I was surrounded by many who were very similar to me. My family lived in a middle class neighborhood consisting of family-based homes. My cultural space at home is comfortable for me because I am surrounded by those who share similar characteristics with me and communicate in the same way.
As a college student, I am now exposed to so much more diversity and see myself differently than I ever did before. While on campus, I feel as though I am a part of something bigger than myself. The students around me all have a common goal of succeeding and pursuing many things past their current education. As a college student, I feel at ease while on campus and feel a sense of community. I work on campus in a residence hall and that connection with the university has helped me to feel more welcomed to the university culture.
But as I go to work at a Target and am surrounded by my coworkers who are not in college, I have found that my identity as a student means something more than I had thought. I have found that while at work, I have a different sense of pride regarding my status as a college student. When I am around those who are not pursuing their education, I feel as though I am not as connected to them. My identity is challenged in these instances and while I can connect with my coworkers in other ways, the differences we have still changes the way in which we communicate.
The idea that your identity can have a different meaning depending on the cultural space which you are in, is interesting because it draws attention to the importance of context and how that can be significant in shaping your personal identity. I find it very interesting to think about the ways in which that changes how we communicate with each other. Like my example about my job, I saw that differences in personal identity and my background made it harder to communicate with those who didn’t subscribe to those same characteristics.
Whether we like it or not, our personal experiences and characteristics shape who we are as a person and what cultural spaces we feel a part of.