They set us up to fail, and they criticize us for failing.

The world sets us up to fail. We are ALWAYS wrong.

“Colour within the lines” “think outside the box.”
“You look so pretty!” “Everything worthy is on the inside.”
“Be nice to girls.” “Don’t call them girls, and don’t even think of gender.”
“Go into highly paying jobs to make a good life.” “Do what you love! Work is not life.”
“Speak your mind.” “Don’t be pushy.”
“Be a man and don’t show emotions.” “Please listen empathetically.”

Because marketing is all about making us feel incomplete, inadequate, and in dire need of their product/service.

The way to avoid all this hurt? There are only a few choices. 1. Be perfect – we know this isn’t possible. 2. Trick myself and everyone into believing I’m perfect – this worked for a few years. 3. Denounce these messages. 4. Protect myself.

#3, denouncing these messages is what we are supposed to do. But they didn’t set us up for that either, did they? I was raised to doubt myself. How?
I was supposed to laugh when an adult shook a toy in my face regardless of my feelings.
When aunts came into the house, they did everything to get me to jump up and scream like it’s a competition, then next moment shouted at me to be quiet now because they want to have tea with grown-ups.
“Don’t be upset” when someone broke my favourite toy.
I told my mother I got bullied for having pigtails. She fixed my hair.

You know me. I’m naturally a strongly-opinionated, determined, confident person who has no trouble denouncing…anything. And even I couldn’t fight it all off when I was younger.

So option #4. we look for protection. The cape, as discussed in this clip.  Everyone has a cape, she says. What is yours?

I personally don’t think we have to shed it completely. The world is too dangerous not to have an escape. But I do think it’s healthy for us all to know what our cape is and when and how we use them.
And to acknowledge that the ones we have the urge to criticise and make fun of – the ones with all their unglies hanging out – are the bravest ones.


Millenia and vancouver housing

Everyone who’s talking about how high the Vancouver housing prices are, “OMG these young people aren’t going to be able to afford a house in the city!”

Why SHOULD they be able to afford them?  Is it reasonable to say the same about Tokyo? Cities grow, and today Vancouver is an over-populated city with high demand and no supply. Of course the price goes up.

Before we blame the Gen Y of being the “perpetually unhappy,” “entitled” generation, we must stop talking like they are in fact entitled to things. Otherwise, we are giving it to them, letting them down, and accusing them of being sad.

Try asking a young person in Tokyo if they’re crushed about unaffordable single-dwelling detached homes 15-30 min from work. They’d tell you they haven’t even considered that a possibility. What if they had grown up with media telling them they should be able to get a home but the prices are unjustifiably high? They would be sad, disappointed, and angry.

But people can still go buy a home in Sapporo, the 4th biggest city in Japan. Is this fair? It’s in the definition of a city. Just because it’s translated into the same word, it doesn’t mean it has the same definition.

The city of Sapporo is bigger than the following cities combined: Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, North Vancouver, Surrey, Delta, Coquitlam, Poco, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows

And Tokyo is 13 times bigger than Sapporo. So, living in the “city of Vancouver” is just as luxurious as the most expensive <1% of Tokyo.
Vancouver:        115 km2
Sapporo:         1,121 km2
Tokyo:           13,572 km2

Now let me ask you. What would you say if your Gen Y niece goes to Japan and complains she can’t buy a single-family detached dwelling in the most expensive 1 % of Tokyo? Me? I would say “Adjust your expectations.”

Gen Y, we are sorry.

Personality by nature or nurture

My head brushes against the mascot’s outreached hand. Oh no. I’m tall enough. My father tells me I’m riding the roller coaster. 
I say “but, father…”
He tells me I’m riding the roller coaster. We do not fear.

I wait in the queue. The line shrinks, and I’m in the next group.

I must do it now, or never. Do I have to? Will it be OK? DO NOT FEAR. DO IT!!

I flop on my belly. My finger tips, my toes, my spine, and my cheek are all glued to the pavement. My black-belt father can’t peel me off the asphalt. Calmly, but loudly and firmly, I repeatedly state “I DO NOT WISH TO GO ON THIS RIDE. I DO NOT WISH TO GO ON THIS RIDE. I DO NOT WISH TO GO ON THIS RIDE.”

Eventually the attendant intervenes and tells father he can’t let me get on the ride. Then, only then, I start crying in relief.

My friend asked me if I’ve always been such a determined person. I thought of this incident.

The cultures – Playing with a baby

I sit and draw quietly. I sit and examine a puzzle. I might stare at a doll for a long time, figuring out how the joints work.

My friends are always, like, “Heyyy!! Let’s go do something fun!”
I’m always “I’m already having fun!” They won’t leave me alone. “Oh c’mon!”

I used to take it personally – Do I have to jump and smile and scream in order for people to acknowledge that what I’m doing is fun? Is it such a foreign concept that I’m quiet and am still having a blast?

And I realized how adults play with babies here. Shake a toy in front of their face. If the baby doesn’t smile or scream, shake another one!  Even if the baby reaches out and grabs it, appearing to examine it, if the baby isn’t meeting the adults’ definition of “fun,” SHAKE ANOTHER ONE!

First of all, if this is the culture, I am surprised that not all Canadians grew up to be attention deficit.

Secondly, now I understand why people like to go to loud parties and call it fun.

Thirdly, if we are encouraging children and young adults to be themselves and celebrate who they are, we must acknowledge and encourage different ways to having and expressing “fun.”

I don’t have a child, so people hate it when I express an observation. They hear it as criticism.
But those same people ask me why I’m always the favourite aunt. Here is my secret.

I never direct babies’ play.

They create the play, use the toy they want, and tell me what to do. I do what I’m told. The baby is about to hand me a doll. The baby notices another doll. Drops the first doll and picks up the other one. Staring at the green jacket the bear is wearing. After a while, sits it down on the bum. The bear refuses to sit. The baby keeps sitting the bear on the bum. I don’t interrupt. I don’t ask “Heyy! You were about to give me that doll?” I don’t tell them “How about you lean it against the couch?” I don’t shake another toy in their face. I just watch. The baby is clearly entertained, and I’m fascinated. There is no smile, scream, or jump, and we are both having a great time.

Unlearning discrimination

I was a kid when the Japanese government decided to put the mass murders in Korea and China the Japanese had committed in school textbooks in its full extent. Before that, they were mentioned as casualties of the war.

When we are accused of a minor infraction, we apologise and move on. That’s the best way to save face.
When we are accused of a horrific act like genocide where no apology seems enough and where we have to accept that evil was carried out in the name of our own nation, it’s human to resist the urge to deny the event or to defend ourselves. We simply can’t live with the magnitude.

So that’s what they did. Deny and defend because…how can they tell their own kids what they’d done? Unfortunately, denial and defence, in any conflict, is delivered from justifying ourselves and vilifying the other: discrimination, denial of the rights, and dehumanisation of the victims. Even though the Japanese who started it knew the truth behind their discrimination and denial, their kids didn’t. Their kids had no other information so they would genuinely believe “Oh those people just have their hands out. We already gave them so much – look how well their country is doing now. We gave them enough. And they have their hand out because it’s free money.”

And one day suddenly they put it in textbooks. That was the only way to end the injustice.
Yes, the generation that were raised on the new textbooks had fights with their parents. The parents had to experience the embarrassment of their “knowledge” and discrimination being proven wrong. But it was the only choice.

The last residential school in Canada was closed in 1996.