I am convinced beyond every reasonable doubt that we are all products of our environments, and just for this reason, we need to be a lot more gracious and tolerant of people because more often than not, people act in accordance to what was acceptable, expected and tolerated in the environments they grew up in, where they spent the most time.
This knowledge does not bring us to a place of complacency, like ‘Oh well, this is how I grew up’, or ‘this is how I am’, rather, it exposes our biases and reveals our ignorance in areas we could totally do better.
I have a friend who’s a little older than me, she’s endeared herself to me in the last few years of our lives and because of how often we talk, I have noticed something in her life and her relationship with people.
A summarised background of her that is relevant to this post is that she is the last child of 5 children and the only girl. So she has 4 older brothers that literally adore her, and the gap between her and the one before her is so large that they could literally pass as her uncles. Her parents i’m sure were also mesmerised at a girl child for the first time so they treated her accordingly.
What happened now is, she was raised very delicately and tenderly, her parents and bothers so endeared her that she was always sure backup was there for her no matter what happened or where she went. They might have raised her this way forgetting that one day, she will get into the real world and unfortunately, not everyone has same knowledge or understands how ‘precious’ she is in their own eyes.
Now, because of this background, she is generally very fragile like I’ve said, extremely mature but generally baby-like, it doesn’t even help that she has a body of an 18 year old.
Recently, she had been getting a lot of people call her to advice about her ‘Baby-nature’. They have felt like ‘You’re a woman now, you need to stop all this baby thing and start acting like a grown up’. While their talk might have elements of truth, we need to be mindful that this is how she has been raised the last 20+ years of her life and it will be aberrational to actually expect her to wake up tomorrow and begin to behave like the first born child in a home of 5 kids.
A lot of people have gone as far as advice that she might never get into a decent relationship if she does not ‘change’ her baby-likeness.
I’ve sat and had a long think about this and honestly, while I advise her most days to check within her if she feels there is things to change about herself and outlook to life, I’m also convinced that the man that will choose her and settle with her would love that thing about her nature and personality.
Particularly when it comes to things that are not in any way negative or immature, I don’t think one needs to change to accommodate the favour of other people. Certain things about our lives make us unique and its the uniqueness that actually attracts certain people to us.
Think about the numerous people you have dismissed as not suitable to date and understanding that the thing that made them unsuitable to you might be the exact thing that makes them suitable for another person, like they say, one mans food is another mans poison.
Sadly, this life is not in black and white and so we need to be more inclusive, gracious and understanding of the grey points. Creates a more habitable environment for us all.
How about you, are there stuff you experienced all through growing up and suddenly society expects you to change it? how easy or hard has it been?
For me, I grew up in a very open and free home, my parents weren’t the strict ones really, I was allowed and encouraged to hear and be heard, getting into society (African society), some people thought it was arrogant or rude to speak up or defend yourself when talking to people older and it is something I have struggled with and still learning.
Unlearning is definitely not the easiest thing, but it is not impossible.