From reading several books, i've come to conclude Americans care too much about labels. They get offended by what they think is improper label. They read too much of everything. This conclusion had been forming in my head for several years, from watching movies, news, talkshows, reading books, magazines etc, but it became a solid conclusion when i read, "lean in."
To Americans, our jokes will sound incredibly rude, or racist. But, i think we Indonesian don't think much about it, because a joke is thought of as it is, a joke. It didn't come from a "bad" place. None of us meant to degrade any Solonese when we joke that, somebody walk too slow like Solonese princess. Or when we mimic Ambonese accent in certain jokes. I can imagine that all hell will break loose if an ethnic group make fun of another in the US.
I thought about why this happen. I found it funny that western people think we asian are too serious and uptight, while we actually can laugh at each other and are more open to laugh at ourselves. Like i would just laugh whenever people mock my Indian heritage.
I think when there are painful past, that's when the sensitivity came. Americans have dark history when it comes to the treatment of African-American people. But what i still can't understand is, hmm why the sensitivity in everything else? Does that come from fear of repeating history? Why do we have to call ourselves "work loving parent" instead of "working mom", "senior women" instead of "boss", making a fuss of what to say when we refer, "work-life ballance". Some people think saying work-life ballance is like calling work as something alien to our life, we have call it another way because work is life. 💤.
At first, i thought, "Don't we all have better things to do than re-phrasing every single thing that we say? They all sound and mean the same to me. They are just semantics."
But then, as always, God would put me in a position that made me somewhat understand the importance of choosing the right words.
The position was, well, the NTS book. I'm getting a little bit of attention because of the book, and umm, i'm not comfortable with it. I'm used to producing work where the work it self gets the credit, not the people behind it. That's when i started to withdraw, and declining some interviews and speaking opportunities.
This is where my coach had to lure me out of my cave and try out my roar. As i was telling him about the new developments in the company, including the launch of the book and what opportunity it presented, i started to shrunk in my seat. I didn't notice it, until he pointed it out.
He laugh and said, "Nin, how weird is that you are telling an exciting story, but made it sound to terrible."
I said nothing, probably stared blankly. So he asked, "what is it that scares you so much?"
"Umm, a lot. But that's not the thing. The thing is, i don't like drawing attention to my self. I don't like this self promoting thing. It makes me very uncomfortable and i had to always stop my self from panicking."
"Well, why did you write the book?"
"Because i want people to learn from our mistakes, be inspired, motivated, enlightened by ours and other entrepreneurs' experiences."
"Then why don't you tell yourself that you are not promoting yourself, tell yourself that you are telling people that through Gogirl! you acquired these experiences and you hope people will learn, be inspired, motivated, and enlighten."
"Yeah, but how does that make you feel?"
"Actually, if you put it that way, then yeah, i can do that."
"Bet, you start to get excited don't you? Cuz' you just sat up, and lean in. Before, you slouched and shrunked in your seat."
I just smiled. Cuz' he was absolutely right.
Now, i do understand the effect of the right words. They are quite powerful.
That being said, i still think we should keep away from labels. Positive words are great, but we don't need labels and make a fuss of everything. We still got a lot to do, like, rising to the challenge of leaning in and save the world.