We all live under some sort of Social Pressure, no matter where we live in the world and living in Turkey is no different. What I hadn’t realised was just how much social pressure we were under until our recent trip home to Scotland.
We have been in Scotland for 1 week and while sitting chatting to my husband about life in Turkey, I commented that I felt like a weight had been lifted since coming home to Scotland, to which he agreed. This comment left me a little puzzled for a moment or two as I wasn’t really sure why I was feeling a weight had been lifted.
After a moment I realised it was the Social Pressure of living where we live, the need to conform and be seen to be the same as everyone else.
Gone were the days where I tried to be myself and not give a hoot about other people. In our area of Turkey there is a growing need to be seen to conform.
Our area is strongly religious and being anything different is seen as a negative, drinking is strongly frowned upon, dressing anything but modestly is seen as being loose and not doing as our neighbour does is gossiped about.
To me it feels like what life would be like in the 1940’s or 1950’s where everyone was worried about what the neighbour would say and worried about doing the wrong thing in case you are gossiped about or in case it affects your job.
Everyone knows everyone else’s business and in many ways its nice to be part of a strong community, when help is needed or a favour asked, people are happy to help and they look out for each other. Crime in our area is low, as everyone knows everyone and no one unless and outsider would dare doing anything wrong.
But still this pressure to conform, especially with my husband being a teacher and known in the area is strong, we like to have a drink from time to time, but if seen to do so it would be very much frowned upon and possibly lead to my husband being reported to the school for such behavior by some devout parent.
Once or twice the question as be raised by my husbands students as to why he does not attend Friday prayers and again we feel the pressure and need to conform to be seen to be doing the right thing.
There is the old adage, when in Rome do as the Romans do! But that is ok while on holiday for a few weeks, eventually this pulls at your own values and morales, your own way of thinking begins to change and your feeling of freedom becomes squashed.
Certainly life in Scotland for us at the moment, feels like a little bit of light relief, to not have to pretend to be who we are not, to not feel the neighbours eyes in your back and the curtains twitching.
You may say it’s a bit of paranoia, and previously perhaps I would agree, but I have seen the social pressure first hand and heard the gossip and the condemnation of our neighbours when see to do wrong.
What makes me worry is Turkey is a fast changing landscape and the direction in which it is heading will mean these social pressures will continue to grow rather than ease, the need to be seen to be the same and act in the correct manner will be constantly pushing in to our lives, rather than leading our own life, with our own thoughts and ways. And at times it feels like this is the path my neighbours are happy to go down.
For now however I will enjoy the freedom and not worry about the social pressures awaiting me on my return and work out during this time away just how to deal with these growing demands.
Are you living in Turkey? Do you feel like you are under any social pressures and how do you deal with them?
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