By Katlin Esguerra, FINDink Contributor
Throughout my life I’ve always felt like an oddball at family parties or gatherings. It seemed as if relatives would always try to have a conversation pertaining to a career or my daily life, try to push me into singing karaoke, or even just forcing me to be under a spotlight that I was never comfortable under. They usually mean well, but I was always more comfortable standing afar and just scoping out the activities going on throughout the evening from a safe distance. It’s not that I hate these types of gatherings, but my energy levels never matched with anyone else in the room.
We come from a culture in which a lot people are friendly and hospitable towards each other, a culture in which those traits coincide with forms of energy that thrives on a daily basis from social interaction. We also come from a culture that thrives on the emphasis of respecting your family and showing kindness to others, which portrays a balance between high levels of socialization, and speaking when being spoken to. From what I’ve encountered, we like to create connections with others without seeming too outspoken or radical, especially towards someone of a higher title than yours, or older relatives. From what I’ve learned on my own, there’s an extent to the sociability that’s portrayed in the Philippines, and it may be tied toward the values of family and overall respect. Socializing in the community is highly encouraged in Filipino culture, but there’s also the need to be mindful of what a person may say or do.
This is the attitude I’ve grown with, which ties in with an introversion I’ve inherited. I’ve learned to keep quiet or else I might offend someone with my outspokenness or an individualistic mindset that most aunties and uncles may disapprove of. I’ve grown so comfortable with this subtle attitude that it’s manifested into introverted traits. I always remind myself there will be a time when I step away from my isolated bubble and become more outspoken in front of relatives, whether they like what I say or not. After all, it is a time to catch up with one another, interact, and learn from each other. Maybe it will help me become more comfortable at family parties, and maybe it will help me become closer with my family. Although I’m still somewhat in my comfort zone at these social events, I’ve learned to push myself out of it the best way that I could, and at my own pace.
I may find myself drained after interacting with relatives on topics or activities I find unbearable, but I’m used to how these parties and gatherings function, and it actually becomes easier to enjoy throughout the time that the function occurs. I find more enjoyment through observation. It’s interesting watching your cousin snatch an amazing score of 95 on the Magic Sing mic, hearing the laughter of parents in the kitchen making the corniest of jokes, and immersing yourself in the overall jubilant atmosphere that goes on for hours. As stated earlier, I’ve grown in a culture emphasized on family, and those are the parts of Filipino culture that I value the most, which can be found at events like these.
If there are Filipino people out there whom I share similar traits and situations with, may we unite in our own individual love affairs with solitude, may we uphold our cultural values in ways that each of us choose to do so, and may we continue easing our way through the overbearing parts of the overall joyful family gatherings that never cease to exist.
Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.