When Identifying With a Culture Doesn’t fit Anymore

Culture isn’t always connection, beauty, and art. Sometimes belonging to a certain culture can be oppressive and constrictive. Some people choose to leave a community they have grown up in, or one they have chosen themselves, if they find the culture of that group to be limiting,or oppressive. As humans we evolve and grow, and something that resonated and felt meaningful to us at one time might not resonate anymore. Our values and priorities can shift over time, and if we don’t feel like the community culture aligns with our values, we might feel the need to pull away from that specific group.

It’s not uncommon for people as adults to leave a religious community in which they grew up because it doesn’t feel right for them anymore. Some communities can place high demands on people that they are no longer willing or able to meet. Pulling away can be hard to do, because religion can be so tied to culture, including family culture.

We are often attracted to a community because we resonate with the culture of that community. We all have this deep need for belonging. However, as time moves on and we shift and grow, we might need that community less. Some people have been hurt or abused by certain communities, and it can be made worse if the culture of that group keeps people from acknowledging the hurt.

This is important to keep in mind when doing peer support work, because we shouldn’t assume that people will always feel a connection to a certain group or culture. We must be cautious about pushing anything on anyone, even if that is engagement with a cultural group. We must remember the principles of self-determination and create space for them to choose what they need for their own well-being.

For Reflection

  • Has there been a time in your life when you had to leave a community or group, because you didn’t align with the culture of the group anymore? How did it feel?
  • Was it hard to find another community that you trusted? If so, what made you trust the community?


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Post-Secondary Peer Support Training Curriculum Copyright © 2022 by Jenn Cusick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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