I came across this term when I was studying a novel called White Teeth by Zadie Smith last semester. The novel is about the effects of colonialism decades after independence on postcolonial subjects.
While I was reading the novel, I felt a mutual understanding with the characters of the novel. I am not a postcolonial subject however I do understand what it feels like to be a mix of two very different cultures. I was born and raised in New York City and then my family moved to Malta when I was ten. I remember at first how hard it was to transition to Malta. Throughout my entire teenagehood, I felt a lot of confusion about my self-identity. I never knew why but after having read this novel and explored its philosophical contexts, I realized that going to school in Malta effected me simply because it is of a different culture to what I was raised in.
After having lived in Michigan for four months, of course I saw the differences in culture when you compare America to Malta. However it was once I came back to Malta that it really hit me how identity comes into effect. I feel that culture effects the way our self-identity is shaped. Thus, it was hard for me to adapt back to the Maltese culture because my identity became that of an American culture.
You see, I have a hybrid culture. A mix of both cultures. That American and that Maltese. Each culture has a set of values, a certain way of living and even a specific set of language. Sometimes, I feel self-doubt about my nationality because for me, I do not hold one specific culture but two and they mess with who I am and my identity. I am influenced by both thus making me not fully each of them but only half of both. That’s the sad reality of having been raised in two different places.
I felt the need to write about this. Hybrid culture. I wasn’t aware of it before studying about it. My entire teenagehood, I never knew that I was experiencing the effects of it and now I know why I felt so much inner conflict.
I know that there are others like me. Its ok to not fit in. The important thing is to try to adapt yourself to whatever culture you’re in. It’s ok to be a mix and it’s ok to lean towards one more than the other. That’s what hybrid culture is all about.