A dialogue dedicated to our future daughters (fit in or belong: Part 3)

M: Hi Julia, how are you? Like, what’s really going through your head? I’m Finnish, so please spare me from a “this is what I think I should be replying to your questions to be socially correct and continue this chitchat in a shallow manner” kinda answer. They bore me. They bore me to death.

J: Well, since you are asking, and since being unemployed, uneducated and home-seeking, thoughts of identity have played on my mind a lot. Being back in the western world of you-are-what-you-do-mentality, whilst doing nothing, has definitely taken it’s toll on my self-esteem.

I’m bottle fed with the scandinavian working mentality, you work hard, and much and more. I’m a child of my time, consumed with the idea that a job should be nothing but self-fulfilling and well paid. I take education for granted and still live with the naive thought that I can become whatever I want. And the biggest monster of them all; it’s all about me.

And that creates this massive pressure. Because not choosing higher education is equal to waste my intelligence, not to work a paid job is straight out stupid, being a housewife seems to be equal to chopping off your legs voluntarily and I am at a stage now where I no longer know if I do what I do because I like it or because I am trying to fit in to the template that seems to be laid out in front of me.

And my insecurities are pissing me off. I want my future daughter to have her identity deeply rooted in who she is, not interchangeable, not depending on context or what political party she votes for, but solely for the fact that she is born into this earth with her unique set of DNA, personality and skills. And not drag around with this… well I can’t even put my finger on it…

M: So, are you saying the cliché of “it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s about how you do it” has some truth to it? Or perhaps it should become the motto to follow? If it’s really true we are enough as what we are, then the importance and people’s attention should shift: it shouldn’t matter if you are the president of the United States or a teacher in a village called Ylihärmä, but rather about what kind of a president or teacher you are.

In other words, we should ignore people’s comments about our daily activities, be it a job in a big corporation or changing diapers at home, because it doesn’t reeeeally matter. What does matter, is what we do with our actions once we have decided and chosen our direction. What kind of a boss we become if we choose that, or what kind of a mother we are if that’s our desire for life; both springing out of our true personality and character. How are we impacting our area of influence; the people, our community, society and the physical environment? How we are dealing with the responsibility we have been given to do a certain task and our personal goal to fill our purpose for existence.

Or am I completely misreading your point here, my dear?

J: Ah Miia, I kind of wish I had a point to make, but it’s more a bit of suppressed rage I’m afraid. And yes, of course I agree with you, what we are is more important than what we do. And that’s a hell of a lesson (and I fall back into longing for the cool jobs instead of the diaper-thing all the time). But it’s also something else.

A big thing we wrestle with as human beings is belonging. We all want to belong somewhere. But as Brene Brown puts it (warning it will blow your mind) “Contrary to what most of us think: Belonging is not fitting in. In fact, fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging.” I feel like that could be a rabbit hole to fall down…

Fitting in, she says, is “assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are—love of gourd painting, intense fear of public speaking and all.”

M: You think it would be a good exercise to start keeping a blog, talking about doctor visits, climbing trips, dreams, insecurities and other things you wouldn’t want your future employer to find on Google? Are we belonging yet? Our daughters will be proud. Or embarrassed. (Actually, I might just get horses instead of kids…)

J: Well Brene Brown kind of rocked my boat a bit today so i think I need to go and have a think about that. Definitely feeling more kind of pretzely than accepting of my love of gourd paintings. And also i need to go to bed, talk another day? (And sorry about my word vomit, I’ll ask you next time how you are doing.)

/M&J

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