Unlearning

THIS WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED VIA TINYLETTER ON DATE STAMPED

I’m so happy to come from an environment where intelligent discussions are encouraged not mocked, where adults are not automatically right just because they’re older than you, where I could question without being tagged disrespectful, where I don’t have to mindlessly participate in traditions that don’t make sense to me, and where people could tell people off for toxic positivity and back-handed compliments (Newsflash! Just ‘cos it sounds nice doesn’t mean it’s healthy.)

Girls are socialized to be nice and polite at an early age. To accommodate other people’s feelings, mostly that of men and of authority. They call it emotional labor, look it up. Adult women developed learned helplessness and would put down younger women for being “too arrogant” or breaking out of social norms. It took me years to unlearn being apologetic and learn how to assert myself. (The book Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls really opened up doors for me as a highschool girl.) To me, respect does not mean blind submission, using po or opo, being nice, etc. but acknowledgment of another person’s dignity.

So if you ridicule me for being assertive, for speaking my mind, for taking up spaces you think a nice Filipino woman shouldn’t, I won’t engage. It’s just not worth my time. I’m just going to carry on feeling bad for you because you’re obviously deflecting… Haha I wish I could be a more helpful person. But if you are of age, at a time where information is so accessible, especially if you have the resources to access them, then that’s on you. I have learned not to carry burden that isn’t mine to carry.

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