Culture can be defined as the behavioural patterns, beliefs and all other products of a particular group of people that are passed on from generation to generation.
With its numerous positive impact, culture can also be a blockage to our progression.
As young individuals, we internalise societal demands and turn them into personal goals, without questioning why certain things should be done the way they are done. My purpose of writing this piece is to identify and relook into some standardised practices that are predominate in society and we continue to live by them without any evaluation of their benefits to our lives as young people.
I have widely observed how elders make certain comparisons about their children in society.
This comparison entails the careers they choose, the properties they own, the age at which they marry and simply how they live their entire lives.
‘Look at your age mates’ is a common statement that validates these standardised beliefs.
How many of us can admit that the way we conduct our lives is not necessarily influenced by our desires and ambitions but to conform to the set standardised practices?
Culture has forced many young people to do things they are not prepared for and to own things they cannot afford.
Although some of these styles are slowly changing, they are still reproduced in some societies and have turned into what is called peer pressure. This is not because we are pressured by our peers but because of the perceived cultural beliefs that are age-specific. Men are believed to do certain jobs to defend their masculinity.
Women are expected to have children at a certain age; once they exceed that specific age, they are often compared to those who have already conceived.
Men are pictured to buy big cars and small cars are believed to only fit women.
There are even instances where young people are rushed into marriages.
These few examples are quite common in our societies and by not conforming to them, young people sometimes become less appreciated.
Regardless our personal values, we base most of our self-esteem on the fulfilment of the dominant standards of our cultures.
Those beliefs have led many young people into depression and have caused an unbalanced structure of personal development. I am not underestimating the positive impact of culture and social comparison on the youth.
My wish is for our societies to realise the negative impacts of certain normalised practices.
Youth preferences are continuously changing and we should, therefore, accept change and have cultural modes of socialisation that provide solutions to the pressures and influences placed on young people as they take on their role in life.
This can be done when young people and adults draw on experience, wisdom and cultural support while creating innovative choices and ways of being.
Young people should unapologetically be themselves and share their potential, unusual interest with no reservation of thoughts of stereotypes.
* Saara Meke Amakali is an Industrial Psychology and Sociology graduate. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.