How Your Environment Can Make You or Break You

March 25, 2024

I was watching this podcast episode of Mayim Bialik’s (from Big Bang Theory) podcast with the stand-up comedian Anjelah Johnson-Reyes and there was a sentence that got me thinking…

Too much is not good, too little as well. Plant parents know. 🪴- Photo by おにぎり on Unsplash

As a podcast (co)host of two podcasts I recently have started listening more and more to other podcast shows and came across this one through the algorithm of YouTube. The loophole started by listening to a lot of stand-up comedians and their specials because I was fascinated by the power of storytelling and started exploring different styles within the industry. One of the craftwork parts of stand-up comedy is also crowd work and it is fascinating on its own.

To have a dream was embarrassing.

Can you relate to this sentence? This was what Anjelah shared as an undescribable feeling tied to being in a community where you fully or partially belong and her having the dream to become an actor. If I remember correctly that was one of the reasons why she also kept her dreams to herself and shared them with people who were partially living her dream, understood her and maybe even could help her get where she wanted to be.

So it got me thinking about my past and how I have felt for a while this feeling of embracement or more precisely  misunderstanding from people that were surrounding me. That environment back then was a small village in Bulgaria, later a city high school and dormitory. But the more I started to become independent and change environments the more I realised that to feel free and experience new things, other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter to me especially if they don’t see eye to eye with me.

This is how no group was the one for me after realising that dreaming for them was silly or making you look like someone who tries too hard. That’s how my journey to self-discovery started.

Self-sabotage is an attempt to control the outcome. — the.holistic.psychologist

I am coming from a very poor background. So poor we had days where the only meal we had was bread toasted on a wooden stove with oil and paprika on top. Still sounds yummy but when your tummy growls in hunger and associates this type of food with hard times I bet you won’t be craving it. The same thing I realised happens with soaked bread in any soup or so-called popara. On some deeper psychological level brings a bitter taste to my mouth.

Growing up in such an environment where I only learned what mistakes not to make as an adult I quickly realized that I don’t belong to the environment I was in. Not only visually but also on a mental level. I had dreams, ideas and plans to travel and see the world. Not stay in the village, get a “normal” job, get married, be a housewife and make babies. Wasn’t enticed by this lifestyle.

That’s why when I first started helping my mom with her cleaning services and learning English in school and from her English clients I quickly started to not only be a cleaning apprentice but also help her with translation and interpretation. That’s how the doors of opportunities started to open, by learning a new language and speaking to people who were living their dreams.

Then everything started snowballing. From cleaning houses to translating for other expats and going on lunches, one-day beach holidays and later on even my first one-week paid holiday in a camp in France. 🤯 And all this because I managed to let myself dream big, enjoy the process of helping other people and build relationships that taught me a lot about life. I got invited to the trip because someone else couldn’t be there and the family thought of me. 🥰

So I kept being part of this ever-changing environment and during my university years joined Greenpeace (yes my volunteering era) and helped them organise different workshops in Varna and even started a campaign called Sea not only for one vacation. Which then became a catapult for attending a one-weekend environmental camp in the skirts of Vienna.

After so much dabbling in different communities (I haven’t even mentioned my participation in a running club yet 😅), I decided to try something even scarier — travelling, living and studying abroad all by myself.

Running was part of my routine at least once a week, sometimes even more. I was also a member of an outdoor training group. 😉

Moral of the story. Pick and choose the people around you carefully. The only voice you should listen to is that exciting voice that is telling you to be bold and brave no matter what other opinions or advice come your way.


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