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Youth Stories #Microaggressions

In the period before enrolling into university, i was experiencing microaggressions from my social surrounding. I was constantly asked which field of studying i am going to choose. The answer was: “I am enrolling into electrical engineering”. So, as usual for our nation, people did not hesitate to share their opinion (about my choice) which was usually negative and filled with dissatisfaction because they did not hear the answer they wanted to.

Firstly, they had the audacity to say that electrical engineering is not a job for females. When asked why, they would either have no comprehensive and logical reply or they would try to give an answer that was not supported by strong and convincing arguments. I understand that they were not doing this on purpose because they thought that they were helping me. Their unconsciousness about this kind of behaviour was putting pressure on me. Consequently, i was feeling discouraged and had the urge to confront them with a raging attitude which would have been rude. 

In fact, i tried to remain calm in these situations and to politely explain to them that they have nothing to worry about since i consider myself an ambitious individual who is willing to go on this path. I would present to them my desire for this field of study and illustrate how jobs are not supposed to be divided by gender, but by the willingness of a person wanting to be involved in that field of study. I was supporting my arguments with examples cause i wanted to show them that their point of view is not right.

Secondly, i faced being judged for not choosing my father’s profession and not following his steps. People often think that the children should go after their parents’ path and that is a huge problem in our society because this kind of opinion is most definitely imposed on the youngsters. People were like “oh, aren’t you going to become a doctor just like your father instead of being an engineer?” and with this question they were microaggressing me. In these moments, i had to stand up for myself and tell them that i do not see myself as a doctor. Now that i go back in these moments, i realize how i should have been even firmer and more defensive about my own choice and to explain to them how they are not helping me with these words, but instead they are putting me down.

All in all, i concluded that a vast number of young people in our society face microaggressions about their choice of lifestyle, the way how they feel about themselves or about their looks. However, it is up to us to stay strong in these situations and not allow to feel demotivated. We all need to be dignified in the presence of experience with microaggression and deal with it bravely. I believe that we, as a society, can overcome this unpleasant form of behaviour by openly sharing our feelings and experience about it. I encourage all of you to share your story about microaggressions and how it impacted your mental health.

About Youth Council of the U.S Embassy in North Macedonia

The Youth Council brings together youth from different disciplines, interests, ethnicities and religious backgrounds. Established by the U.S. Embassy in Skopje, it seeks to generate creative ideas and projects to empower the youth of Macedonia, and to strengthen the voice of youth by advising the Embassy on important youth issues.

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