On stress and culture chameleons

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

I tend to at least try to blend in to the place where I am. It’s a fine line between being true to who I am and not pissing anybody off, and I try hard to walk it.

If I’m in a place where I need to look smart, I will do my best to find something vaguely suitable to dress up in.

If I’m somewhere where people place value on closing the toilet lid, I will eventually train myself to close it automatically.

If I work somewhere where I need to get up at stupid o’clock, I will try to go to bed early enough to make it a possibility (even if doesn’t always work).

I think if you go somewhere new, you should be willing to experience a certain degree of change. Not only for the others, but also for yourself. You make life harder for everyone if you insist on taking everything with you, and to be honest, there would be no reason to go if everything was the same as where you already were….

You don’t need to change everything and you don’t need to change it permanently. Just as long as necessary to decide if it’s something you’re willing to do or not. If you’re not willing to do it, you need to reconsider your choice to be in the place where it’s deemed necessary.

It also works the other way. The other people need to be willing to accept difference.

I have lived in my share of houses, and been to way more than my share of schools. I have moved around between counties and countries and cultures (not nearly enough, but some).

I am pretty proud of speaking two languages fluently and understanding the occasional word in another handful.

I can talk to and get on with just about anyone. Temporarily.

I don’t mind if you’re different. I don’t mind if you can’t do what I can do – the chances are pretty high that you can do something which I can’t do. Maybe we can benefit each other, maybe we can help each other learn. Maybe we can agree to disagree and keep out of each others’ way.

I don’t mind if your customs aren’t the same as my customs. That’s fine. It makes life interesting.

What I can’t stand, is if you tell me your way is the only way. If you want me to be any way other than the way I am. If you aren’t willing to even consider the idea that other people might not be wrong, just because they’re different.


(written on the 10th September 2015, added to in July 2016 with the following addition: “Talking of being in Rome… Here’s a post I wrote in September. I have a feeling it’s something that needs a lot more sanding before I can polish it, but I’m not in a place to do either at the moment, and I think it won’t get better gathering dust..” and backposted, unchanged, on the 10th January 2017)

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