Culture doesn’t define who you are

CN/ Bryan Pedroza


By Brian Villalba

If you are not having an identity crisis while you are at East Los Angeles College, you probably should be.

The old way of identifying which group you were supposed to assimilate to was race and culture. If you still use those things to determine your identity, then it is time to evolve beyond the race/culture mind set. ELAC is a cultural melting pot, which is a perfect place to evolve beyond an age old methodology of self realization.

Everyone is born into a racial designation. Some of us have more than one.  You did not get a choice. The confusing part is that a culture comes with your racial designation. Every culture has its rules, subtle nuances, traditions and obligations. Some of those cultural elements can be very harmful in your progress as an individual.

Not all culture is bad. Cultures, for this context, are a construct of groups of people that guide our attitudes, goals, values and world view. Perhaps, if we were born Mexican, we were expected to work in some stereotypical way.

If we were born Asian, then we were expected to drive in a stereotypical way. As we assimilated into our particular culture, we began to pick up habits that were common in our culture. Some of those habits were conducive to our success, others were not. We cannot choose to be another race, but we can choose our culture. Not all culture is bad.

Food is a big component of culture. It is delicious and doesn’t interfere with our identity, unless you are on the menu. Cultural exploration is an important exercise to give us some perspective on the difference between ourselves and the cultures that try to assimilate us. Ultimately, the point is that no culture can tell you who you are.

Only you can do that. It would be wise of us to keep that in mind as we seek to establish a path of our future, while we are here at ELAC. When you make a decision about what classes to take, what to major in or anything important to your future, you should visualize who you want to be and do what that ideal person would do.

If you constantly make choices as that person who you want to be, you will start thinking like that ideal person. If you keep thinking like that ideal person, you will form habits of that ideal version of yourself. If you keep expressing the will of that ideal version of yourself in the form of habits, you will eventually create a culture of your success.

There you will have found a system of thought that is self sustaining and leads you toward the kind of life you want. The manifestation of your goals is simply a matter of aligning your choices in life to support your personal culture of success. The question we all face as college students is “Who am I to be?”

Your answer ought to be simply, “Myself.”

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