„It’s beautiful there. I’ve never been so stunned in front of the old buildings than in those cities,“ I said excitedly, “and the hospitality among locals is something incredible.”
„So it’s safe to travel there?“ asked my new friend, young Kyrgyz girl. „All of my friends told me it’s not a place to go.“
„Which place?“ I was confused, even though there must have been only one answer.
„Uzbekistan, of course,“ she said.
The next couple of minutes my new friend explained me that Uzbekistan is full of conflicts, protests and war. Her friends told so, and they know better. My argument – that I just traveled through almost the whole country alone and didn’t see anything dangerous – didn’t convince her. No, it must be dangerous. What exactly, still remains as a mystery to me, because even her friends have never been there. Of course not, why should they risk…
[Uzbekistan is one of the safest countries I have ever been to. Read more HERE.]
How many stereotypes are there in our heads? How many thought patterns? And where are all of them coming from, how do they take root, transform into some general, strong truth inside of us. We never think about their origin. It has just always been like that.
„It’s dangerous there.“
„I’m not good enough for the new job, I’m not even gonna apply.“
„Traveling is for the rich people, I will never earn that much money.“
„Even my great grandmother was bad at mathematics, so am I, it’s all about genes.“
„I have to drink milk and eat meat. If not my bones will be weak.“
„Real science is THE science, you cannot take humanitarians seriously.“
„Whether you were born as a singer, or you can never learn to be one.“
„Girls are playing with dolls, boys with cars.“
„Some of us are born to be actors, some not. It’s about personality.“
„I would never be able to do that.“
„He is older than me, he must be smarter.“
„I am older than he, so I am smarter.“
How many thoughts like these are crossing our minds every day, and we don’t even notice it? Are they even our own thoughts? Maybe they are put into our minds by someone else? But we are so sure that these are ours, produced by our own smart brains. Still, at the end of the day we are the ones who are living by those thoughts without fully understanding who is actually guiding us.
Are these thoughts just excuses not to start something new, not to work hard? Is it just laziness to see beyond, to think, to analyze and to stand in front of yourself? It’s easier to put our thoughts like books into the boxes, checking only the headlines and not to control whether the content matches with what is written on the box.
When you hear yourself stating something as a common knowledge, stop and think about where this information actually originates from. Is it really your own thought or it comes from somewhere outside?
When you meet someone for the first time, stop and realize that you really know nothing about them. You see race, gender, age, clothes. Forget it all. You know nothing. Those biased assumptions that pop into your head because of the way your brain likes categories, are limiting your life, and other people’s lives.
With all the assumptions, stereotypes and categories we limit our own lives. We create borders, leave ourselves out of opportunities to dig deeper, to find new windows. We make our own world smaller without noticing the opportunities which could change our lives. Or other’s.
Sometimes we need to learn. So we could unlearn and relearn.