“Just the way I am!”

This was totally unplanned, but I want to do a brief extension to yesterday’s Post.

I am saddened, and frustrated, when I hear “That’s just the way I am” in response to a suggestion that a change of perspective might be a good thing. It is usually stated in such a manner that suggests their character traits are rigidly established at birth and cannot therefore be changed, or they simply do not want to change.

My first experience of a cultural bias in Canada was anti-English (for those of you who do not know, I was born and raised in England and emigrated to Canada when in my late 20’s).  I was told “You can always tell an Englishman, because you can’t tell him anything.” I understood that to mean all Englishmen were arrogant!

Most people I know, while they may not be openly prejudiced against a particular race, culture, color or other delineating feature of members of our society, invariably do have biases/preferences.

Are all Englishmen really arrogant? Are all people living on the street deadbeats? Are all teenagers trouble? Are all subsidized housing/low rental areas occupied by drug addicts and petty criminals? Are all the young men and women in the sex trade business, in it by choice? Are all hair stylists gay? Are all politicians corrupt?

The list of negative (and inaccurate) stereotyping can go on, and on, and on, can’t it!

If we can accept that our perspectives on the world are constantly evolving, then we can in fact initiate change. Treat Englishmen with an open mind and while you may well confirm the stereotype, you are more likely to realize that they are just like you!

Talk to some people who live on the street, and listen to the circumstances that put them there. You may well find that they are not unlike yourself, or somebody you know really well, but just experienced more trauma in their life.

Instead of making the assumption that stereotypes are all inclusive, try challenging them. I suspect that you will be surprised at the outcome. If you choose to then adapt to your new reality, your world will undoubtedly be a much happier and more rewarding place to live, and isn’t that what we would all want?

Food for thought.

40 thoughts on ““Just the way I am!”

  1. I think I have come to the point where I believe that all of us are prejudiced against someone or something, possibly because we seem to have a predisposition to believe in an “enemy.” But the trick, I think, is to recognize that it is simply a prejudice, not a fact, and to never, ever act on that prejudice. In other words, to recognize that I may have an initial negative reaction to a certain type of person, but to also recognize that is my problem, not that person’s, and to go ahead and get to know that person and give him/her the benefit of the doubt anyway. Not sure if I’m explaining this right, but I really like what you are saying about not making sweeping judgments or buying into stereotypes.
    All I know is that I have some very dear friends who I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t ignored my prejudices and given them a chance….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stereotyping is kind of the norm here in the US. too. I found it disheartening, racist and smacks of bigotry. I have made good friends via blogging with a number of folks from England. Some I email with on a fairly regular basis (would oftener if I were with it and not so tied to family problems at the moment).

    I email with 4 expats, one lives in Winnipeg, two in Spain, one moved back to England from Hong Kong, and one has never left GB and lies in Wales. I have found English folks to be very friendly, warm and, caring. I only email a couple of Americans now and then. It is very strange to find folks from another country who are incredibly nice individuals. People often look at me in an odd way when I tell them about my cyber friends.

    Great post. Thought provoking. Liked it very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so true and unfortunately my MIL was always saying this. It was just an excuse for her not to do anything, from socialising with FIL’s senior officers or being hospitable to visitors/workers by offering them a cup of tea. If we visited, we always made our own. She was exceedingly difficult but happy in her ways, and so lucky to have neighbours care enough to put up with her attitude after FIL died. Sadly she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great post, SO VERY TRUE!! Are you sure you don’t want to run for President? 🙂 This post hits home in more ways than 1, so thank you for sharing wisdom that hopefully the people that need to hear it will listen to!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I hear someone say “That’s who I am” to me it means “I don’t care about anyone, I’m doing what I want.” I didn’t know the English were arrogant. I have one friend to immigrated here and he’s really nice. (Love his accent!) However, warm beer is another thing…..My grandparents all came from Germany and I believe we all have some aspects that are usually associated with Germans — like holding in emotions. Again however, we are all fluffy inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes we all have our cultural traits… which is what makes us all the more interesting.
      I have come across the “warm beer” comment so many times and yet, in all my years in UK, I never drank warm beer. It seems to be a US thing that because the beer is not chilled, it is therefore warm. Perhaps they don’t realize the range of temperatures between the two? For the record, the pubs that I frequented served beer at cellar temperature which made it cool to the taste. For US readers, and if you have a basement, it would be like storing the beer on the concrete floor in your basement! Chilling an English beer would have been sacrilege as it would kill the mellow components! Lagers, in contrast, were always served chilled!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I cannot stand those stereotypes. Such comfortable excuses. The excuse for not leaving the comfort zone because it is not much of an effort to consider a different perspective. Such attitudes make me totally angry!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very well said! I have had bias towards myself..first as the child of divorced parents..almost a rarity back then..whispered conversations meant to be private but heard by 11 year old ears..i lived on the streets as a teen for a short time..again bias..not knowing why i had no home but assuming i was trouble..when hubby and i many years later lived in government housing…well bias was clear and cruel..because i had 4 children under 5 again bias as to how many fathers they had ( one..hubby) and now we have our own home..lots of land and again bias..as if we are people who have no idea about struggle street..bias comes easy to many..assumptions are flawed..ask the questions and find the answers..or walk away and mind your own business is best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps it is just a sad aspect of our development (progress?) that we are so wrapped up in our own lives that we have no patience for others? Perhaps it is simply easier to condemn (e.g.) the “girl on the street” rather to try and understand why she was there? Perhaps if we knew her story, we would feel obligated to get involved and somehow help? I am sure there are people out there who have studied this aspect of human nature and can explain it really well …. but I am not one of them! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I always wonder if it’s our need to find patterns that makes us label people. Stereotypes are bad enough, but we often make up our mind about someone after a brief conversation. Well, I don’t think I can really ‘know’ someone after a few minutes. I definitely know a lot of open-minded Englishmen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am really not qualified to answer your question, but would suggest that it goes way back in time! The English (e.g.) have a strong distrust of the French (being just 22 miles away across the channel), which some have postulated goes back to Napoleon’s attempt at invasion. When the Channel Tunnel was being proposed linking England with France, there were concerns (admittedly isolated) that it was a bad idea because “you cannot trust the French”!
      Many immigrants from various cultures tend (naturally) to settle in areas where others of their culture have established themselves. As that habit continues, we end up with distinct cultural areas in our cities. While that can be seen as educational and generally beneficial, it must also slow down the process of integration. Anybody with a distinct dislike for a specific culture, is likely to condemn that whole community.
      It could also come down to a basic dislike of change with the simple, and sad, logic of “You are different from me and therefore I don’t like you.” Dogs are so much easier to understand!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anyone with a dislike for the community will also dislike the whole culture. I’m not sure if dogs are easier to understand (though quite possibly they are) but they can’t verbalise their opinions and it definitely makes life with them less complex.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I mentioned dogs because Ray doesn’t seem to care about size, breed or physical condition of other dogs. He goes through his social routines and after a few meetings will decide whether he wants to be friends! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • dogs dislike individuals, not cultures or communities 😉 but they can be mislead into thinking every dog that looks like the one they’re not fond of is to be approached with caution 😉 well, we all learn using our experiences from the past, it’s not always helpful (though it is helpful in most cases)

            Liked by 1 person

            • Very true. Ray responded very badly when we first got him if he was approached by anybody holding a broom, stick or similar. I tried to do some gardening near him with a spade and he went berserk. We assumed that at some point in his past, he had some bad experiences (he’s ok now though … after 3 years).

              Liked by 1 person

    • True. We never can really understand until we have “walked in their shoes”, but we can acknowledge that differences exist for logical reasons, and we should therefore be more tolerant to said differences. For example, I do not need to understand a culture’s dress code, but I do need to accept that there is a logical reason behind such dress code. I need to acknowledge that very few people decide to make a career out of living on the streets of a large city. They are on the streets due to some circumstances in their past, and I should acknowledge that fact.

      Liked by 1 person

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