In class on Thursday we covered the concept of “time”, how it affects us day to day and how it is different between cultures. I think we could have spent 3 weeks talking about all the things we covered in two classes (unfortunately we don’t have enough time). People in class had a lot of great insight and ideas that they were willing to share with the class. I have been extremely ignorant in thinking that every person and culture looks at time in somewhat the same way. This is not the case at all; I knew that in the “American” culture everything is controlled by time. Humans are on a constant schedule and whether it works for them or not they have to conform to succeed in American culture. I was looking into my own life and became aware of how much I dislike being on a schedule and that in my personal life my time looks very different from my professional life. When it comes to work, school, any type of appointment I am always on time because it’s the professional thing to do, and being late in American culture has bad connotations. If you want to keep your job, or get a job, if you don’t want to miss your appointment it’s important to be on time. When I made the statement in class that professionally time is important but personally it’s not to me; someone else made the comment that being on time isn’t important in a professional setting in other cultures. This was the basis of our entire class and it really stuck out to me. I have to remember that being “on time” may mean something different depending on one’s cultural context.
I have never realized how negative this idea of time can really be; it causes stress on one’s health and family. Many of us become so rushed and focused on just getting through the day that we lose touch on reality and our relationships. Dominant American culture is considered individualistic, in the power point from Thursday it stated; “Individualistic cultures tend to favor monochronic time” and that “monochronic time is focused more on a schedule than people.” In the dominant American culture many of us are raised to be like this so we never even think twice about it. Ideally I would love to live in a culture that is polychronic because then my personal and professional life would align; unfortunately in the American culture it tends to be very monochonic.
When we were talking about pace and whether our pace is enjoyable, it really started to bother me because my pace from day to day isn’t enjoyable and I always feel rushed. From setting my alarm in the morning until I go to bed at night I am forced to be on a schedule. This isn’t because I want to be but it’s the only way I will succeed. I think many people struggle with the “American” idea of time; we are a society of action and if you don’t get things done you are considered lazy or unmotivated.
So now I know there is nothing wrong with me, that I’m not lazy or unmotivated. I just have a different idea of how I would like to spend MY time. My question is how can I enjoy life at my own pace and find my passion on my own time and still be successful in the “American” culture?
Marsiglia, F. F., & Kulis, S. S. (2009). Diversity, oppression, and change: culturally grounded social work. Chicago
Rodenborg, 2011. A Question of Time, SWK 280 Course Handout.
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