It’s interesting how growing up poor affects people. I think some people become very comfortable with not having money, but others, once they escape it, become very afraid of ever becoming poor again.
Like most of our parents, my parents grew up poor and I think both of those influences were present in my family. But the fear of being poor thing sticks out more to me. I dunno, this is just my own interpretation of things, maybe I’m completely wrong. But the way it expressed it sometimes was in little, random ways. Small things to kind of make us feel cultured, remind us that we’re not poor.
Like, and I’ve mentioned this before, but we ate crumpets a lot growing up. Who the heck eats crumpets? Do people even know what crumpets are? Where do you even find crumpets in the 80s? But yeah, something we did. Ever since I was small, we regularly went to the symphony. Regularly meaning roughly every year. I remember once our family went to see a play, again I think an attempt at “culture”. Big mistake. The play was called “Angry Housewives” and the featured song was called “Eat Your F***ing Corn Flakes”. You understand, my mom is very sensitive on our behalf. She covered our eyes on the Peter Pan kiddie ride at Disneyland. She was incredibly embarrassed watching Titanic with us (this is when we were in college). So yeah, this play was kind of an embarrassing experience.
We were forced to take tennis lessons for a short time also, despite overwhelming evidence that we had no proclivity towards tennis whatsoever. To this day, I can’t serve a tennis ball overhand. There’s a high probability that it will go over the fence. If I make contact at all. But anyway, yeah, what I remember is why we had to take lessons. It’s not that we liked it or were good at it. My mom thought it was socially important. I’m assuming she got this idea from TV. But someday, she believed we would have to play tennis with (probably rich) people and not being able to would but us at a social disadvantage. I dunno, interesting.
So yeah, again, this is my own maybe wrong spin on things but I’ve felt like for some time there was this undercurrent, a fear of being poor, in my family, and one way in which we dealt with that was with small, inexpensive touches of culture.
Like with everything, I wonder how this affected. There is one thing. One of the worst feelings for me is that of being uncultured or unknowledgeable. When people talk about stuff I have no idea about, or even worse, if they look down on me for not knowing something, it drives me crazy. I think in general, I respond in one of two ways: go all out in learning about it, or completely reject it.
I think I’m learning to be comfortable with the middle ground though. Not knowing about stuff and being comfortable with that. Like, in the past, I’ve had this terrible fear sometimes when going to nice restaurants. Drove Jieun bonkers. I was just afraid of doing the wrong thing, of ordering incorrectly, getting the wrong kind of wine, having uncouth manners, and just generally being exposed as an uncultured bumpkin who clearly doesn’t belong there. Odd, huh? But whatever, I’m a lot better.
I once bought Wine For Dummies. What the heck was I thinking? But yeah, not knowing about wine bothered me. But again, something I’ve come to grips with. I dunno, I don’t really care anymore and am comfortable in my ignorance. I’ll stick with the “bottle of red” and “bottle of white” level.
Boring entry. Whatever, just, in the past few years I’ve become more comfortable with not having to know things and that’s been good for me, I think.