Productive Loitering

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Home: Rural America

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I did a post on knowing your cultural norms and wanted to share my own. This is the lens through which I see the world. I grew up in rural Missouri in USA on my grandparents soy bean farm. The above pictures shows were our old trailer use to be. My oldest sister lives in the pretty new one you see in the picture.

Being from a rural area I tend to like a larger personnel space in public. About 4-5 feet around me is preferably. When I started traveling the colectivos of Mexico, sleeper buses of Vietnam, and general crowded subways made me a bit edgy. I can handle all of these now except those damn sleeper buses! Never again. Its like traveling in a coffin. ^_^ When I was 18 I moved to more populated areas and started living in cities. After the last 11 years my personal bubble has gotten a lot smaller but I still like the extra space when can get it.

Typical with much of America I am a bit uncomfortable with touch from a stranger. Kissing greetings and hugs were common among the women & children in my family but this contact was rare with people outside the family. Adults limited their greetings & goodbyes to each other with waves, handshakes, arm grips, or hugs. Men in particular had less physical contact. This has made me a tad jumpy to touch from strangers but I’m working hard to break this. My first trip out of the country was to Mexico. Through couch surfing I met locals in Playa Del Carmen. I was quickly introduced to the cheek kissing popular in Latin American. It was a bit weird to me at first.

My parents put a lot of importance on individualism. Mom loved to stress the value of being a strong independent woman while dad gave lessons financial independence. This idea of being your own person & supporting yourself got me in a bit of trouble through my teens and early 20s when I was struggling with youthful anxieties. Instead of reaching out for help I kept it all bottled up which was the norm for my immediate family. Later life I learned how valuable asking for help really can be. ^_^ This upbringing also caused a lot of conflict avoidance. In some cultures you will find conflict avoidance very common.  I struggle with is shutting down when conflict arises instead of taking it head on for a more productive outcome.

This individualism up bringing became noticeable when I started dating a man who was half Chinese. China is a collectivist culture in contrast to the typical individualism of Caucasian America. At first I liked how close his family was. About four months in I became resentful to their constant presents in our relationship. Steven’s stereotypical over controlling impossible to please Asian father caused a lot of unhappiness in his sons lives. No matter what they accomplished or succeeded at it was never good enough. Also despite all of them being around 30 years of age he still expected them to play brothers keeper and do what he said.

Given my individualist values this seemed silly to me. Of course I would help my sisters if they asked but never did I consider myself responsible for their being. As an adult the idea either of my parents had a right to tell me what to do is laughable.  For some one with a collectivist family is a common theme. If you ever date some one from a country that emphasizes on family be prepared for them to be an active force in your relationship. This isn’t a bad thing but it can be a challenge.

SHORT: I grew up in rural Missouri USA. I like open spaces, friendly people, and wide personnel space. I’m an individualist who prides at herself on independence. 

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