What is not to love about Steven Universe? It is a high art form that promotes nontraditional love, body positivity, and gender equality. The soundtrack will make you dance and cry, and forget Bali because Beach City is where you want to be. While I do admire the show for all of these attributes, what draws me to the show is Steven’s identity crisis for being a half human, half gem.

“So where are you really from?” — a question that is central to my existence, and yet I do not know how to answer it. Born in New York and raised in Bangladesh, I have had the best and worst of both worlds. Despite spending almost my entire life in Bangladesh, I am still regarded as a “foreigner” to my own people. I am told that my views are too liberal, the way I dress is too modern, and many other labels are slapped on me to make the same point: I am Americanized.

READ: Need another in-depth analysis of your favorite show? See our article on choice and autonomy in Steven Universe!

Now, let me give you a rundown of how I live my life. I spend my weekends doing homework, and occasionally watching plays or going to art exhibits. I do not drink or party; it is just not my definition of fun. Most importantly, I do not eat bacon. I know, I am missing out on a whole world aren’t I?

After moving back to New York thirteen years later, I tried to assimilate as much as possible. I wanted to fit in, even if that meant permanently erasing my Bengali identity. That, of course, didn’t work out too well. Eventually, I had to come to terms with who I am. No matter how American I tried to be, I have certain values rooted inside of me that come from my Bengali heritage.

I am not an American to American people. Being a brown-skinned person with a slight accent makes it all the more visible. Although my passport is American and my roots are Bengali, my cultural identity is still not apparent to me. Sometimes I wonder, am I American or am I Bengali? Am I both, or am I neither?

Steven Universe Identity Crisis

I may seem out of the ordinary for my unique lifestyle, but then I look at Steven and find immense solace. We have a lot in common, although I must admit, his life is far more intense. He, too, is torn between two different identities and struggles to fit in both worlds. The challenge of being half human and half gem is real, and in many instances, I was able to relate to him.

Being Too Much Of A Human To The Gems

This has been particularly evident in the first season when the Crystal Gems were hesitant to take Steven to dangerous missions. Steven was considered the weakest member despite having the gem of their former leader. Being a human means he needs sleep and food to function, which is a form of recreation rather than a necessity for the rest of the gems. Steven’s emotions may also sometimes inhibit him from utilizing his powers to the fullest, as seen in the episode, “Steven Floats,” (Season 3, Episode 6).

Steven Universe identity crisis

On top of that, his human form has caused other gems to believe he does not belong. In the episode, “The Trial,” (Season 5, Episode 2), Yellow Diamond humiliates Steven, stating that he should be shattered simply for looking the way he does.

READ: What Steven Universe can teach children about being a good, bad person!

While all gems know their reason for existence immediately after they are formed, Steven is lost in perplexity about the purpose of his life. Much like us humans, his journey to realize his true mission is much more complex than finding a treasure in the Pyramids.

Being Too Much Of A Gem To Humans

Despite having many human attributes, it is sometimes difficult for humans to understand Steven’s peculiar life. Unlike kids of his age, Steven does not go to school. On the episode, “Steven’s Birthday,” (Season 2, Episode 23), Connie tells Steven that she sometimes wishes he was taller than her, which took a toll on his self-esteem. He struggled with the fact that he does not age like normal human beings and tried to age by shape shifting.

Steven Universe identity crisis

Connie is not the only one — even Steven’s dad, Greg, is unable to comprehend Steven’s intense adventures with the Crystal Gems. Although he could win the Best Cartoon Dad Award with his words of wisdom, Greg cannot always help his son cope with the many unanswered questions he has about his existence.

Thus, even though Greg desperately wants to spend time with his son (“House Guest,” Season 1, Episode 27), he understands that Steven is better off living in the temple with the Crystal Gems.

The Bright Side Of His Identity Crisis

Being half human and half gem has led to an identity crisis in Steven’s life; however, it has also worked as an advantage. Regarding powers, Steven is immune to hazardous gem weapons. In the episode, “Jail Break,” (Season 1, Episode 49), the Gem Destabilizer could not puff Steven as he is half human. Consequently, he was able to unite the eternal lovers, Ruby and Sapphire.

READ: This Steven Universe graphic novel tackles the education system!

While most of Steven’s powers belonged to Rose, his identity crisis is a strength of his own on a much deeper level. His ability to empathize with both humans and gems is a power that no one in Earth or Homeworld has. As a result, he fits in both worlds, although not perfectly. His identity crisis is a huge part of his identity. Therefore, he does not have to resolve it because it is what makes Steven the incredibly wonderful human/gem that he is.

Resolving My Own Identity Crisis

Steven helped me realize that I do not have to be one or the either. I no longer feel ashamed of being seen as too American or too Bengali. When I am criticized for not living my life the American way or for not adhering to all Bengali traditions, I do not feel the need to justify. Instead, I remind myself that it is okay to have my own set of unique, culturally mixed values.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with belonging somewhere between the gaps of two entirely different identities. I can be both Bengali and American, and fit in both worlds imperfectly. My identity crisis is part of who I am. I take pride in the fact that it is an amazing superpower that I share with my favorite cartoon character.

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11 Comments

  1. Azar

    July 17, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    One of the most memorable episodes in the show : A Room with a Moose. 😉 I highly recommend you to check out Zim from the very first episode. Currently rewatching with my dad for the first time since 2009. It holds up pretty well IMO. There’s some good lore and wordbuilding that wasn’t common at the time. Same goes to Avatar. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Daniel Blackley

    July 17, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I think I only ever watched a single Invader Zim episode many years ago, it involved an infinitely looping bus journey and a moose.

    Reply

  3. Azar

    July 16, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Well put.As i said, i don’t find show bad. Wanna know something ? I really liked it back in 2015, and i was excited for things to come. However, the show started to go downhill for me after the Cluster arc and its rushed conclusion. The toxic fanbase didn’t help either, so i lost interest. Having watched all seasons now, i really dislike where the plot has gone. I liked Lars’s recent sacrifice, but that’s about it. The writing and filler became worse, some characters got flanderized, some newer episodes are just plain shit (Rocknaldo, Beach City Drift and most of Season 4 ) and the LGBT stuff became way too forced. IMO. I will certainly watch the finale when it airs, but i can’t call myself a fan anymore… 🙂 Glad you like it so much, but i would like people to be a bit less biased when it comes to reviewing it…. PS: you forgot to give your thoughts on Invader Zim. 😉 One of the few non adults cartoons that i enjoy, alongside Gravity Falls and Avatar. Pretty ahead of its time. Glad it’s getting a movie. 🙂

    Reply

  4. Daniel Blackley

    July 15, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Better cartoons such as what? I ask that legitimately, I’ve been looking around lately for cartoons I could watch.
    Still, I disagree almost entirely about what you’re saying.

    Reply

    • Azar

      July 16, 2017 at 12:04 am

      I would rather watch cartoons like Rick and Morty, Gravity Falls, Bojack Horseman, Invader Zim, Futurama or Samurai Jack any time of the day before watching Steven Universe. It’s just my opinion, man. Not everyone is obligated to like this thing. Why must we always nitpick every aspect of something, yet this flawed and tedious show is inmune to criticism ? Not fair at all. The show’s got flaws aplenty, yet you people prefer to start drooling everytime it airs, instead of doing some constructive analysis of its problems….

      Reply

      • Daniel Blackley

        July 16, 2017 at 9:49 am

        Now I don’t believe I said anything about Steven Universe being the best thing in the world. Of course it has problems, everything does, and of course you’re not obliged to like it. However, your way of explaining why you don’t like it has the appearance of dismissing that it has anything to make it a great show at all, which isn’t true. What you said in your first comment, those are what you don’t like about Steven Universe, writing and the rest, though consensus goes against you.

        From the cartoons you prefer, it’s apparent to me that Steven Universe probably wouldn’t have been your thing in the first place, you prefer cartoons aimed at older audiences and ones that are longer, with a heavier focus on comedy. I can tell you having watched most of those at least a bit that many of them just aren’t my thing, like I’ve tried watching earlier Samurai Jack but it felt like it wasn’t going anywhere, and Rick and Morty is an excellent adult cartoon yet I’ve not yet felt that I “have” to watch it all yet.

        Gravity Falls I can agree though, that is a fantastic cartoon which I think does have better art animation than Steven Universe, certainly the comedy is fantastic. However, I think that Steven Universe has better music and a better world, it’s own comedy also great, just less in your face about it. The characters, story and themes of both cartoons I’d say are quite close, but I just prefer Steven Universe in those areas, so consensus may go against me there.

        Basically what I think I’m saying is that it’s fine not to like something good. If it’s not your thing, that’s fine, it doesn’t mean it’s bad, just i doesn’t suit your tastes. Hopefully I’ve been able to say what I wanted to clearly. Either way, enjoy what you like.

        Reply

  5. Azar

    July 13, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Rude ? I’m just giving my opinion. Why can’t anyone say something negative about this thing ? It’s just a cartoon made for kids. I feel sorry for you if you have deluded yourself into thinking it is something more that.

    Reply

  6. Azar 2

    July 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    You didn’t have to be rude

    Reply

  7. Azar

    July 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

    The problem with this show is that there is no plot direction whatsoever. It’s true that the animation and music are gorgeous, but i don’t find the writing staff to be talented writers. They have their moments, but they are few and too far between. I don’t hate it ( despise the toxic fanbase, though ) but i find it to be a piece of wasted potential. IMO There are more entertaining and consistently good cartoons out there.

    Reply

  8. Anika Hossain

    July 11, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Azar,

    Having watched all four seasons, I can definitely say that the show is not perfect. I’d love to see the development of many characters instead of the “useless” filler episode. While it has its flaws, I still admire the show for its strong characterization. But to each their own. 🙂

    Reply

  9. Azar

    July 11, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    You people, always treating this show like it’s some sort of perfect masterpiece. I can safely tell you, having watched all 4 seasons of it, that it is not. Not even close. Pointless filler, useless side characters, poor writing and pacing, forces morals and pandering. This show is overrated as hell. Get used to it.

    Reply

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