Filling the Gap

“Stereotyped beliefs have the power to become self-fulfilling prophesies for behavior.”

I stir fried the noodles, steamed the broccoli, pulled pie out of the oven, and set the table. My younger brother Roy put down the forks. We both sat down, and Roy took the first bite. He chewed for a few seconds, looked up at me, and gave me a thumbs up. I sighed in relief; this was the first time he had actually seemed to enjoy my food.

Believing at first that cooking was “unmanly,” I had resisted cooking of any kind for the longest time. So, when I finally had to cook, it had been horrendous at first. It was a bit of a vicious cycle, in fact: I never cooked, so I never made good food, so I never cooked. This belief that I had held for cooking could have kept me from ever cooking. My brother, instead of enjoying home-cooked meals, could have been on a steady diet of takeout Chinese food, microwaveable chicken wings, and never-rotting burgers. My harmful conception of “manliness” could have caused my younger brother a host of health problems in the future; in hindsight, my seemingly innocuous belief suddenly seemed malicious.

This little idea, planted in my head unconsciously, was something I had never interrogated. It became clear to me that I make a lot of assumptions that simply go unquestioned; these assumptions dictate what actions I ought to take. I was essentially a captive of beliefs that society had imprinted on me. Due to my recognition that many of my beliefs are actually not mine, but society’s, I have begun questioning the root of the norms I take for granted. It is difficult to root out which thoughts I have developed and which thoughts were the product of living in America, but I know one thing: I enjoy cooking. And I don’t care what society says.

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