How difference makes Canadians stronger

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ISTOCK (PETERPENCIL)
We are all so diverse and yet so overwhelmingly similar.

We are all so diverse and yet so overwhelmingly similar.

All our lives depend on how others perceive us and our way of living. People are social beings and they usually search for approval from peers, colleagues and loved ones. But nowadays there is an influence of standards that are forced on each of us by our surroundings or society as a whole. Those standards vary but are present in every sphere of life. Still, coming to Canada from Ukraine was a huge change for me that made me see the difference between these two countries.

Nobody is alike and we each have distinctions, especially when it comes to appearance. But that doesn’t make us less beautiful or attractive. However, back home I used to see girls who were struggling with major mental health issues, because of bullying and inappropriate usage of social media. This was usually to do with two factors. First, they couldn’t accept their beauty or difference compared to icons and models they saw on the internet. And second, no one ever told them they were special; their hair colour, eyes, face, and habits. Girls changed themselves just to be the standard, instead of being unique.

The Fanshawe College and Here For You logos are shown. A young woman is smiling while using a laptop. Text states: Exam time can feel overwhelming. Let us help you succeed. We are here for you.

Some time ago, I read an article and the main idea was that “we should love ourselves because our ancestors survived through tough years to let us live.” Loving ourselves is the key and that is what I see in young Canadians who surround me. They love who they are and do not refuse their uniqueness just to look as others feel they should look. My friends are free and it hit me hard when I arrived here, so hard that I will never return to the way I used to think years ago.

Another big change was the freedom of love. Back home I saw unwritten rules before my eyes. My mom used to say daily that I should be married by 25, that I should be understanding and helpful towards my future partner. No wonder they say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” People want to help their beloved one, to do good for them by giving pieces of advice. But they just don’t ask whether this person needs their advice at all, or whether it will even help them. My mom also says, “don’t repeat my mistakes.” I understand that she wanted to save me from pain. But young people are supposed to choose and to look thoroughly, to make mistakes and to live through them. That is what I see in Canadians. They value their interests and they are able to compromise on some issues. What is more, I see mutual respect and understanding that makes me believe in love again. Feelings are only real when they are not imposed by people around, but when they are experienced.

The last difference I want to describe is happiness. Sometimes a smile makes a day better and sometimes it saves a life. In Ukraine, no one would ask you about your day or smile at you on the street. It seems impossible for me to imagine this happening. And I guess when I go back home I will seem strange, because after watching Canadians for half a year, I now share their habits. People here smile even if they are preoccupied by their own life problems. Even after a hard day they will ask you about your emotions or your physical state. They will thank you and be polite. I think Canada should be proud of their residents and the way they are raised.

How strange it may seem that we live in one world and still we vary so much in our traditions, our way of looking at things. We are different and should be proud of this. But in some ways, some are able to live happier lives, because they are free from standards and know that being themselves is primarily important. I still hope that cultural habits can change and I will be able to see this happening in my home country in the years to come.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.