The more people I work with I develop more empathy. I wish I had learned this earlier: people are people. They all have the same issues, the same stories. Everyone struggles at different levels. Every is scared. Everyone is insecure, vulnerable – on a gradient of intensity. The more people I work with the more empathy I develop for nationalities, genders, opinions, etc.
As I pass thru the corridors of my workplace I look at people wondering if they care? If they wonder why I am looking at them? If they wonder the same about me? If they are better than me? If they are smarter than me? If they are happier than me? And the more people I meet, work, sit and talk with I realize we are more similar than different.
Then there is the imposter syndrome but I will leave that topic for a later exploration.
I think I have been conditioned in a certain way in last 30 years. Some of these conditionings are:
- 10 girls to 25 boys in a class.
- All boys school from 7th grade onwards.
- Girls score grades and boys become street smart.
- Girls get married and their husbands outshine in careers.
- Physical beauty is real beauty
- Girls maintain kitchen and boys geek out.
- I am smart, others are not.
- Love equals marriage.
- Marriage equals children.
- I am not smart as the white folks, non Pakistani folks, rich folks, other folks.
- Boys only court girls.
- Other people are always right.
- There is a single right way of doing things and only other people know what that right way is.
- Worry about how you chew, how you fold your shirts, how you speak, how you dress, how you comb your hair
- Worry about making Queen Victoria happy in her grave.
- Worry about what other people will say.
- Worry about if everyone is happy.
- Indians are evil
- Westerners are immoral
- Judgement passing is ok
- Perfect is better than done
- Elders are always right
- People are born to fulfill their god-anointed role and for some people it is being dark skinned christians in Pakistan cleaning sewerage only
Just to mention a few. (It is a very complicated society with a lot of good and bad and everything in between).
This turns into conditioning because everyone around me is following the same curriculum. There is no diversity. Its only when you work, live, talk, sit with other humans that you realize there is no single truth, no single way. Queen Victoria’s etiquettes are not the end of the world and her passive aggressive clones are not the only people who deserve to be made happy all the time. That the world is much larger than my need to look like the cool boys in the next street or to become as cool as the rich uncle.
At this point in my life I think diversity and inclusion is very, very important – probably more than schooling and academics. This is, among other major changes, that I have been feeling lately.