From the moment we are born, we start learning about the world around us. For a very long time, that world is very small, and even as we grow, it still centers around a very particular group of people – our parents, grandparents, and loving relatives. We absorb narratives and values that are someone else’s and engrave them into ourselves, perceiving them as our own.
After we learn something in our early years, it takes a long time to meet people with different value systems and get our entire world shaken or even torn into pieces. Some values and lessons from our childhood are worth defending and standing for against all the odds, but others need to be unlearned and exchanged for something that might go against everything we thought was real and right. Suddenly, being a part of a crowd does not seem like that great of an idea. Suddenly, you find yourself discovering a world that you never knew existed.
When I was a young girl growing up in newly independent Lithuania, I learned the value of fitting in. Back in the Soviet Union (USSR) days, fitting in was a tool that could save lives, and older generations carried it into the era of Independence. Being like other girls, not laughing too loud and staying lady-like were values that my Granny tried to engrave in me since I was a little kid. Luckily, my Mother was an absolute hippie misfit, so she taught me the importance of being yourself, being brave, and loud. I was always torn between these two poles. Like so many other girls, I needed to figure out whether fitting in was something I wanted to stick with. I was lucky to have a Mother who was anything but lady-like. But so many young people have to discover the importance of not fitting in all on their own. All those one-size-fits-all checklists (school, marriage, dog, house, kids, etc.) are perfectly fine for some and foreign AF for others. Figuring out where you stand in our society’s complex fabric is a life-long endeavor, but it must be approached on everyone’s own terms. Fitting in: TOSS.
Figuring out where you stand in our society’s complex fabric is a life-long endeavor, but it must be approached on everyone’s own terms.
It takes a while to learn to associate wealth with hard work and creative approach rather than all kinds of shady behavior.
Have you ever heard the thought that rich people are somehow immoral and just straight evil? That rich people get rich by stealing from the poor? Then you probably grew up in a lower-middle-class household just like the majority of post-USSR kids did. I remember this narrative so well. And I think it is one reason why financial literacy is an issue we keep dealing with every day. Yet again, a healthy relationship with money and overall wealth is something we had to learn on our own, only after unlearning the previous generation’s money-hating attitude. It takes a while to learn to associate wealth with hard work and creative approach rather than all kinds of shady behavior. It is also related to the fact that back in the USSR days, it was tough to get material goods, and to do so, you had to know someone, come up with a sketchy machination, and risk either your freedom or integrity. Poverty and constant lack of financial safety was the normal state of being. Nowadays, this particular money-related fear and distrust still remain as a leftover. It will take quite some time for all of us to unlearn it.
Pink for the girls, blue for the boys. Dolls for the girls, cars for the boys. The more progressive people tend to think these days are over. Yet, they are only over in the more progressive circles while the rest of the world turns to the rhythm of blues and pinks, Barbies and Legos. The glass ceiling that so many women have to fight to break was no built by men alone. Sexism is not a male-only vice. Many women and men live by the rules created for them decades ago and find it very hard to fight them because they started learning them at home when they were little. So many men still face mental health issues because they were taught not to express their emotions. So many women are still driven by the idea that marriage will fix their lives and fix their very core. That’s why we have that stupid saying that a man can ‘make an honest woman out of her.’ The entire gender role narrative is a weed with insanely deep roots that are hard to pull out. The best we can do? Not pass it onto other generations and strive for gender equality and professional diversity. Let’s be the rule-breakers, the game changers, the askers of questions, and the change-makers.
So many men still face mental health issues because they were taught not to express their emotions.