Category: Think about

What is the sense of stereotypes?

What is the sense of stereotypes?

Playing is a way to see the world, to create an understanding for everything. Kids love switching into different characters, getting dressed up and being someone else for just a moment. They see the world differently. They see it without these “boxes” in which adults often instinctively put people. Children ask questions, and wonder about certain behaviors that grown up’s would never consider. Why? Adults learned that some things are the way they are. Period. This answer would never be enough for a kid. When do adults stop asking? Is it easier to accept a specific way of thinking, than daring to think differently?

Imagine a kid who is wearing a skirt, and playing princess with a doll. What do you think? Is it a little girl or a boy? Why do you think this is obvious? It was not even 200 years ago, when men wore nightgowns. Back then, nobody thought this was weird in some way. Why does it feel strange now? People tend to familiar patterns. When I know something, it gives me some comfort. I feel well. However, when I am not used seeing one thing, my brain goes instantly on some sort of alarm. It is like looking at a picture and see a mountain upside down, or a tree growing on top of a house. These might be weird examples, but it may create pictures in your head, of which you think they aren’t right that way.

Kid jumping
Is it a boy or a girl? How much does the gender define us?

Kids see the world differently. They don’t fully comprehend what is going on in the world – honestly, do we know all that? Kids don’t care about physics or biology. In their phantasies, everything is possible. A boy who wears a pink skirt and loves glitter is acceptable, until kids learn how things “ought to be”. Parents tell them that mountains are no crates, and that trees need lots of soil to grow which is usually not on rooftops. They also learn about stereotypes like girls wear skirts and boys wear pants. Only a kid would question why girls can wear both but boys can’t. 

You act like a girl. Have you ever heard that sentence? I did, and it was not meant in a nice way. Why? There is no negative word in it. I am a girl. Why would I act like a boy? When did it become a bad thing to be a girl? It is not, but there is this cliché that girls are weak. In some countries, still these days, men can deny a woman to work or to leave the house without their permission. In Saudi Arabia, women have the right to drive cars for only almost a year now. A huge milestone for them. Women can do much more than men think. Girls can wear pants now. That wasn’t so common only 50 years ago. Stereotypes work in both ways. It is created by society to help us that we all can relate to each other. What’s familiar connects us. Anyway, not everyone is the same.

Something different does not automatically indicate bad things. People can relate to those who dare to be unlike others. Maybe they will inspire them to see their true selves. Every person around me is a part of how I see the world. Some have positive effects and some caused negative ones. I learned that everyone has her own story to tell. I do not want to be in their way to tell it. I do not want anyone to say what I have to wear, what I have to think, or how I have to feel. When I wear a dress, I do it. Okay, I am a girl, but even if I wasn’t, that should be no issue. I have seen guys in New York wearing skirts and dresses. Nobody was looking at them, but unfortunately, not every place is like NY.

“A Kid Like Jake”poster
Poster of “A Kid Like Jake” at the IFC Center in New York

In the movie, “A Kid Like Jake”, a little boy doesn’t understand why he cannot be himself. Jake wants to wear what he feels comfortable in, just like any other kid. He wants to play with what he loves the most. Why should these be problems? His parents accept him, and they do everything they can to make him happy. His mother, a former lawyer, knows what should be right. His father, a therapist, can relate to other people’s feelings. How hard must it be for them seeing injustice to their son, feeling with him, feeling so helpless to make his life better? How can they do that, when society “thinks” there is something wrong with him? He is smart, and he is talented. He is like any other kid, and still he is not.

“A Kid Like Jake” is not only about a kid who feels differently, and parents who do their best to support him. It’s about stereotypes and how we deal with them. A boy wearing a skirt might be gay, or maybe he is transgender, even when he is not yet in school. When did a skirt become a piece of cloth that is labeled “for girls only”? Does a skirt make a man instantly gay and does gay mean a “female man”? I think we came a long way of understanding and being more open about other people, but there is still a long way to go. Every kid should watch this movie, maybe even in schools, to learn acceptance and tolerance because everyone can feel differently somehow. Adults should see that as well and think about the effect of putting people into boxes too quickly. It is an easy thing to do, definitely easier than trying to understand and accept. However, think about, do you want to be put into a box? Do you want to be labeled in some way? No one is alike, but everyone is equal. Aren’t we all somehow “A Kid Like Jake” wondering why we should be how others want us?

A Kid Like Jake Q&A
Picture I took during the Q&A with Jim Parsons, Silas Howard and Daniel Pearle after one of the first screenings in NY.
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Fear no fear – my way to happiness 

Fear no fear – my way to happiness 

Every new year people make plans, think of how they can improve their lives and get rid of bad habits. I usually made resolutions like eating more healthy, doing more sports, and meeting my friends more often. Just the typical things. This year I want to make things differently. I don’t wanna do what everyone else is doing. I was thinking of what kind of change I really need in my life. Why do I need it now? A ‘normal’ resolution doesn’t work for me, it’s too unpersonal. I am not eager enough to make them work, because it’s what I generally should do more, and maybe almost everyone, but to me New Year’s resolutions have to be more personal. 

These days I feel like being back ten years ago, when I first started my first job. School had been such a safe and happy place for me – except the time when I was bullied. But I could just sit there, being barely noticed, and let the hours pass by. At work I could not hide myself anymore. I needed to do things, I could no longer just sit there and listen. I was scared that I could do something wrong. In school, my fellow students laughed at me when I said something wrong. So, I started feeling insecure. I was scared people at work would laugh at me, too, when I did something wrong. How was I able to handle working the entire day? I was so afraid of failing. 

I had some times when I wanted to stop. But I knew I needed to do this. How can something seem so easy for everyone but me? Why am I the only one struggling with this? I only wanted to hide myself, shut myself off from everyone and everything. I wasn’t prepared for that change. I felt like I had been in a bubble during school. The bubble that protected me was gone now and I had to face the brutal, dark and cold world. Reality became a stranger. Reality started to make me anxious. Every day after work I was too exhausted doing anything but think. My old life was gone. No time meeting friends, all moved away and started being in relationships anyway. I was too tired to write. I was too tired to go out. I was just way too tired.

Thinking of my childhood, I felt I spent it in a bubble somehow.

It felt that I was gone. I simply had to work. In both meanings. No one asked how I felt. It did not matter. Anyone feels that way, but no one bothers anyone with this. I never spoke to my parents, I did not want to be a burden. Not to them, not to my friends, not to anyone. So I started acting. I thought being a grown up is to be fake happy. Happiness is only for kids. Happiness is for those who believe in fairytales, who love fantasies. But that is not for grown ups. They watch horror stories. That is the closest to their lives. 

I don’t see things this bad anymore. Everything has two sides. Contradictions are everywhere. I could not appreciate the good times, without being through bad times. I could not stand up and walk, if there wasn’t the force that keeps me on the ground and the other one that allows me not being glued to it like a rock. Now I know how I am, but I still feel judged too often. It seems no matter what I do, others can do it better. I tend to see the best in others and the worst in me. I am still afraid of failing. It is hard for me to trust people. Finding friends and being in a relationship is so easy for everyone but not for me. I think they all leave me anyway sooner or later. They just use me until they find someone else. They don’t really care about me. Maybe I bother them. Maybe after a while of annoying them that I want to meet up, they are only willing too, that I stop annoying them.

I don’t wanna lie: being around people often scares me. I try to put myself in situations, just go out. But I cannot think enough to find the perfect answer, like I can online. I often don’t know what to say in most situations. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I think there might be some progress in the past ten years, but I still cannot talk about random things like the weather or any gossip. I enjoy more talking about what is going on in the world, talking about science or the origin of words, development of languages. I am different. And so I often feel misunderstood, like an alien in this strange world.

This is my last half year in my twenties. In the past decade I got my first job, worked so I could afford going to college, then I went there, got my bachelor’s degree, then got a second job and a third. Now I finally have one that is permanent. The first that I actually like, because I can write, in German and in English. I can be creative, I can be me. I can handle the working world now, but I still need to learn to trust people. I used to focus on the bad things, so I could convince myself it is best staying at home, letting no one new into my life. Like in court when the lawyer focuses on the facts that supports his client. There are always two sides of everything. And everyone tends to one of them. May it be in politics, in music, in films, whatever. There are things you prefer, that is normal. Everyone has a good and a bad side. Everyone decides which one will take over most of the time. 

Bubbles seem so fragile, but they are strong and colorful. They are not just for kids. Adults can create their own bubbles, too, safe places of happiness that have no room for negativity.

My resolution for 2018 is to fear less. I always thought failing was a bad thing, but it isn’t. Only when I fail, I get closer to my goals. Only if I try and keep trying, believing in myself and never giving up I can make the change that I want. When I hadn’t tried keep mumbling my first words as a toddler, because I was afraid to said things wrong, I would still not be able to talk. And oh how often I fell when I did my first steps. I am thinking too often too much. I have learned that failing is the only thing that helps me to get forward in life. Why was I afraid of failing? Why was I afraid of being me? I love to learn. I love to grow. I love to improve my life. But it is not gonna happen if I keep myself from happiness only because I am afraid of failing. 

Happiness is also for adults. I want to be happy. I want to be me. I don’t wanna be afraid of myself, or of what I am capable of. I can do more than I admit. I don’t wanna hide anymore, and focus on what I cannot do. Not anymore. It is hard. I need to accept that it is okay to be me, that people like me for who I am. Happiness is no fake. Love is no fake. Only when I allow myself to love and be loved, I will be happy. When I learned one thing is that I always feared of being judged by others for who I am, when in fact I was the one judging myself the most. 

The differences between Germans and Americans 

The differences between Germans and Americans 

They are miles apart. The Atlantic Ocean is right between them. However, how much different are Germans and Americans actually? I do not want to focus much on politics or economics, but about the people. I was born and raised in Germany. I have relatives and friends in both countries. I love American TV shows and holidays, I am interested in the political situation in both countries, and I think Germans and Americans are more alike than it might appears. 
(I want to point out, that this is just my opinion, based on the experiences I made. It can vary to your own.)


The beauty of globalization!?

Many people still dream of one united world, while many world leaders want to turn their nation into the only one triumphing. We all live on one single planet, but there is not one mindset, that is entirely right. Every person is unique. I mean, underneath the skin, we are alike. There is no difference between the X-ray of a black and a white man, a Christian and a Moslem. It is solely the feelings, and beliefs, which vary. What makes us so unique is not the skin color, but the emotions attached to it. Back in Stone Age, people were looking for those, who appeared similar to them. They were suspicious about aliens. They wanted to protect themselves. Still these days we are more likely to find friends and a partner who is like a beloved person. The chances that this relationship will last long, is by far higher than to someone who is quite the opposite.

That is the reason “the others” are often considered as the bad people. They can be the black ones, refugees, or belong to any other minority. Both countries fear losing their home to the minorities. Parties like the AFD, that is far right in Germany, arise unreasonable fear by ignoring the facts and creating vicious emotions. There are only two percent of refugees compared to the amount of Germans living in Germany. Therefore, it is unreasonable that the refugees will soon take over. The reaction to such, by statistics proven, facts is in both countries the same, when it does not fit to specific politicians’ opinions: in Germany, it is called “Luegenpresse” (lying press) and in the US, it is “fake news”. 

However, what is a “real” German or American? The AFD considers everyone not German who does not look like one – to them. How is a typical German supposed to look like? That is a big issue, also in the US. Some people might have grandparents from different countries, but cannot relate much to it, because they were not born and raised there. I have a friend who is half Moroccan, but she has never been to that country. Her Mom lives in Germany, my friend was born and raised here. Germany is her home country. She is German. Unfortunately, many people tell her she is lying when she talks about her nationality. 

Putting stereotypes into boxes

Facts are one thing, but they are meaningless when they do not appeal to the emotions, which can lead to illogical decisions. Why seeking for a potential enemy even in the own country? Why do we want to tear others down, instead of accepting a challenge and become better? When I was a college student, I had to do an interview with a former doctor who is nowadays doing comedy in Germany. His secretary refused using the words “he is a TV star now, he cannot do interviews with students.” He was just one of many people I figured out who think they are better than “freaking, stupid students”. In the US, it is different. I feel more support. Politicians and entrepreneurs are pleased giving interviews to students for infamous podcasts, magazines or blogs – not all of them, but there is a higher chance they answer questions than Germans. These people maybe remember how they once started, and are not thinking, “Now I am the famous guy and you better beg or pay lots of money to afford me.” I think the more money is on the table, the less happy people are for others. At least that is what I experienced in Germany. These rich people become some sort of a Montgomery Burns on The Simpsons. They think they cannot fail, nothing they do is questionable and who ever dares to, has to be the declared enemy.

When I was younger, I felt I was the only person with issues. Life seemed so easy for other people. They were smart and beautiful, and I was simply too stupid for it all. Now I have realized that many successful women, like actresses Melissa Benoist and Emma Stone, were dealing with anxieties and insecurities. It feels good to read about that, and to notice I am not the only one. It has always been hard for me to express feelings. As a teenager, I tried my best to refuse them. Emotions made me feel even more vulnerable. I did not want to give the other kids another thing to laugh at me, or talk behind my back, which I constantly felt they were doing. Listening to my friends and helping them is something I like, but I always feel like I cannot bother them with my crap, because they have enough to deal with. Even when they tell me, they are interested; I feel it hard to accept. I know they have problems, too, but I feel to be just excessively different and they would not understand, maybe even consider me crazy. Who am I to complain anyway? There are “real” problems out there, than me feeling like an alien.


The same in different ways

Have you ever felt differently? Have you ever felt unaccepted for who you are? This could be because of your nationality, religion, ethnicity, or maybe your emotions. We all have them. They make us human. They make us the same, but also separate us. They make us vulnerable, but they also empower us. I think when everyone shares, instead of hiding or even refusing having feelings, insecurities and anxieties would not be such a big deal. Everyone has them. It is good to admit being imperfect, instead of laughing at others and pretending or not showing any issues. The minority is the majority. Instead of pointing fingers and catastrophizing, I wish for people to be more open about themselves, and about other people. Accepting others and focusing on the good, that is still in the majority and it is on us to keep it that way; that is the actual beauty of globalization. 

Do not fear or hate those who are like you. Forget the box thinking, and allow everyone the freedom to embrace herself entirely. Put the obstacles from your thoughts aside, the differences that humankind created like nationality, religion, and ethnicity. Only then, we can maybe become what we already are: equally human beings.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

They were there, all the time, but most people weren’t aware of them. And those who were able to see them, didn’t actually see them. They seemed like aliens to them, a different kind, one that is maybe even less worth. They looked differently somehow, so they assumed that these “other” people had to be different, that maybe they even want to take their jobs, ruin their lives. But now, there is this movie. Lots of things have changed since back then, but have they really? Continue reading “Hidden Figures”