In a world often bombarded with motivation and inspiration, its often a nuisance to be seen parading in dependency. You’re either a businessperson or employed. You’re either a budding entrepreneur or self-employed. You’re either a student or graduate. The world is made up of many businesses and of course the amazing socials that connect us to whoever, wherever and whenever. According to Emarsys, there are 3.2 billion social media users which constitutes 42% of the world population.
Sometimes, where we find ourselves ushers us into who we become. Culture is dynamic but societies can be characterized by certain significant variables which run across board.
The Porter creates us and assigns us to various destinations. We are unaware of where we ought to go, until we get there. Through birth, we arrive with expectations. These expectations are not that which we sign up for but by virtue of our arrival on earth, we have no option than to succumb.
Death is inevitable. It is a common denominator for every single being. We are birth, then we die, however, the most crucial time in our life is what we do whiles we are here on earth.
Rachael Held Evans said, “we live inside an unfinished story”. I look at life from that perspective, maybe physically it does, and it will end for everyone, but spiritually, never. I’m often intrigued by success stories especially those ones with individuals who had to start from the ground up. It gives us hope.
To some of us, it gives us permission to start small and sometimes coax us to critically scrutinize the process. It gives us the chance to say we can fail, rise and still make it. Out of all this comes the social contract that pushes many individuals into a cycle. It simply states that, every single individual needs to go to school, have a job or business and get married. That is the expectation based off of society’s timelines.
I’m usually interested in what many call culture because we often resort to it as ultimate defense for the things we do. Plus, you dare not want change especially in a typical African certain. Initially, certain people practiced human sacrifice, trokosi, child marriage; specific rites such as death rites, naming ceremonies, etc. Today, it’s not exactly a thing of the past. A significant number still practice these.
What is culture? Alan W. Watts (British Philosopher) said, “We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society” Craig Groeschel (Founder and Senior Pastor of Life Church) said, “Culture is a combination of what you create and what you allow”. Renowned writer and novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, “Culture does not make people. People make culture”. Paulo Coelho said, “Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions”. Elvis Appiahgyei, Programmer and Facilitator, said, “Culture informs my respect for humanity. It is subject to change; pick the positives and do away with the negatives. It is not a regulation but a genuine desire to wake up to do what’s best for us all”.
Culture is underlined in our social contract. It is what we know, live by and have grown to accept – even the wrongs which we sometimes criticize and cowardly follow. One consequence of our social contract is that, it equates masculinity with some rather troubling expectations of both men and women. Men are expected to be breadwinners, caretakers and protectors. Women are supposed to be homemakers and have nothing less than great culinary skills.
A report from the World Health Organization (W.H.O) states that, about one person in 5000-15000 dies by suicide every year (1.4% of all deaths), with a reported global rate of 10.7 per 100, 000 population in 2015. Rates of suicide mortality for women were lower than those for men in all countries except Liberia. Worldwide, the rates were about 16 deaths per 100, 000 men and 7 deaths per 100,000 women in 2016. Women around the globe experienced a greater decrease in suicide rate (49%) compared with men (nearly 24%) over the study period.
Research also stated that social constructions of hegemonic masculinity and femininity was a significant explanation for high suicide rates in males. This is explained in terms of the traditional gender roles. Male gender roles tend to emphasize greater levels of strength, independence, risk-taking behavior, economic status and individualism. Reinforcement of these gender roles often prevents males from seeking help for suicidal feelings and depression. Males vulnerability tend to heighten during times of unemployment because societal expectation hover around the fact that the man needs to provide for themselves and their families.
Culture’s essence cannot be overestimate in a shrewd way that affects our very existence. If we have to live a certain way or accept a certain norm, then it has to in the long run benefit us for generations. As much as we respect others culture, we also need to appreciate those who wholeheartedly reject what they have come to know and lived by initially.
Rather than prepare individuals for these troubling expectations, we can allow them to question the odds, cause social change and promote the necessary transformation that our societies yearn for. It seems like society sees flowers that could blossom into beautiful sunflowers and still expect them to be hibiscus just because we are used to seeing such.
Its perfectly fine if you’re the misfit. If you allow people to place some sort of value over your head, you’ll always end up doing what pleases them and makes them happy. Be bold enough to not accept what you don’t want and courageous enough to make calculated mistakes.
Take life slowly. Getting married at 30 is still beautiful. Starting a family at 35 is still great. Buying a house at 40 is still a boss move. Don’t let society rush you with its timelines.
Your happiness and mental health is more important than virtually planning to meet (sometimes) unrealistic societal expectations. Protect your peace.