• Kerri Burchill, PhD

Lovin' you and your identity

It's funny how identity can sneak up and grab you by the throat and remind you who you are with the most innocuous of experiences.


In my case, it was shoes!



If you don't know, Canadians (of which I am) take off their shoes when they enter the house. Americans (of which I am surrounded) do not typically take off their shoes. One could argue that Canadians are constantly walking on snow and don't want to track treads of snow throughout the house. That would be a mess because there are actually summer – like days in Canada! One can also argue that walking in socks or bare feet deteriorates the carpet.


Either way, there seems to be a distinct cultural difference when it comes to shoes and wearing them! This cultural norm came to the forefront of my mind recently when we were lucky enough to have some friends visit from Canada. This picture captures how we can identify my friends as Canadians - the pile of shoes at the door.

When I noticed their discrete collection of shoes at the back door, I giggled out loud.


The shoes reminded me of the frustrations every Canadian experiences when they try to open the door and there are too many shoes piled up to enter without grunting some explicates!


Then I got to thinking - how do I manage the shoes now that I live in the States? A pile of shoes at our front door might look messy to an American (and entirely normal to a Canadian).


I didn't realize it until I paused to reflect on my Canadian identity - I still keep shoes at the front door but use a ladder to pile them up! I suppose this is me still being me, but in a way that is camouflaged to an American.

My husband always teases me because I constantly pronounce and spell words in "Canadian".


I think I am adjusting, but maybe I'm just camouflaging my identity to fit in.


I suppose on some level, we all camouflage to fit, if not fit in.


When I think about me being me, and the people that I surround myself with, the real win comes when when I feel safe with them. The win does not come from their nationality, or where they leave (or don't leave) their shoes.


I own part of creating that safety.


I would define my feeling of safety as:

  • I am able to share what is on my mind and be heard

  • I am able to feel whatever I feel, without judgement

  • We have shared interests

  • We have shared values

  • I am equally interested in what the other person has to say


When I think of these friends that were visiting, they check off every bullet listed above. Lucky me!


What would you say defines your safety bubble? I'd love to hear - set up a time to chat with me. Kerri




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