The Danger of Acclimation: Two Tales of Worldly Influence

4:36 PM

When I was younger, my world was naturally smaller. My brain could only hold so much outside information, so I didn't think in terms outside my diameter of experience. (Had to insert a bit of geometry - sorry.) Then you will excuse me when I say that I thought there were only two accents in the world - two accents worth having, anyway: Texan and British. Everyone else, I assumed, fell in between those extremes, speaking normally, speaking phonetically, speaking dictionarily.

I was wrong. After nearly five years of withstanding the shock of Northern accents, I am now starting to cave in. Don't fault me - the pressure is intense. Even my most beloved friends cannot comfort me except in the bosom of Northern accentuation. Diagonals are becoming diaygonals. Root beer is becoming rut beer. Snack is becoming snaeck. Bag - bayg. Drag - drayg.

This is I, Bailey, saying these things. The grammar geek. The punctuation police. The accent adversary. And they're starting to sound normal.

I started out strong. Really, I did. I lost many friends due to my impregnable position on phonetics. I fought the good fight hard. Yet here I am, sobbing with my sister after she blurts out "rut beer" in an intense game of Apples to Apples, sitting in shock after saying "diaygonal" in my head. Perhaps if I hadn't taunted my friends with their accent, I wouldn't have learned how to pronounce it properly. The damage, however, is irreversible. I will probably marry a Texan who will affectionately tell me, "You Wisconsin people have such a weird accent" (hopefully after our marriage, as them's fightin' words).

All that to say, I have come to appreciate - for sentimental reasons if not phonetical - the accent of the Wisconsin people I love. They say my name funny. I love it. But it's funny - I could have never seen myself saying that - much less saying it in a Wisconsin accent. We Bergmanns laugh at it. It gets me thinking. It gets me thinking about how easy it is to slip into a worldview, a belief, a lifestyle that we previously abhorred - though now, portrayed and perhaps exemplified by beloved friends or at least interesting people, the abhorrence is softened to curiosity.

There's power in association. I won't say I'm staunch - I'm opinionated, but my love for fairness and equality (and acceptance - don't tell) gets me all tangled up with my opinions to the point where I don't know why I adopted them in the first place.

When I was younger, my world was naturally smaller. I grew up with children different than me, but kids are kids - we sat on the sidewalk discussing science projects, played Barbies in the bushes, got lost in the neighborhood, walked to the park across the street and back. We didn't discuss public schools vs. homeschools, fashion, Christianity, feminism, postmodernism - anything of that. I won't say I wasn't influenced - I was. But I was equally influenced by my parents and their beliefs, so I couldn't stray very far even if I wanted to.

I'm growing up now. I get to - and have to - make my own decisions. About life. Friends. Relationships. College. Careers. Time. It's mind boggling. It's heart-wrenching. In some ways I hate it - but I would rather be conscientious of my own beliefs instead of passively absorbing whatever I come across.

But sometimes I wonder if I do passively absorb whatever I come across - all in the name of "being independent" and "making my own decisions." I spend time with a certain person, come to love her and find myself thinking twice about different things - simple things, sometimes, like how to do my hair; big things, like how to educate myself post-high school.

I'm learning that, like living in Northern-accent-saturated Wisconsin, there is a huge chance that what I run into is going to rub off on me. And some of that is not of God or, mostly, not for me. It's tough, pulling out the mirror each sleepless night and examining my heart to see if I soaked in a little too much of this philosophy or this lifestyle - and then trying to fix it for tomorrow.

Yes, this is random. No, I don't entirely understand what I just wrote. But God's been working on my heart lately, and as I needed to share this and you needed a blog post from me this week (so I humbly like to think), here it is. I can do no more. If you have an answer, further clarification or a specific course on how to tackle said trauma, please contact B. E. Bergmann at 000-0000 and leave a message after the tone. Thank you!

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6 impressions

  1. I understand you perfectly. Sometimes it's hard to get those really deep posts out ... I was trying to write a post like that yesterday, and it was so hard to put into words that I gave up. Thank you for persevering. ;-)

    I know what you mean about "acclimation," too - a certain amount of acclimation is necessary to successfully transition from our first world of homeschooling into the larger, more diverse world (wow, that phrase sounded like a textbook!), but we do need to be careful not to "acclimate" to the point of compromise. I caught myself saying something about "lower life forms" the other day before realizing that was an evolutionist phrase that had somehow crept into my thinking. It definitely put me on my guard to watch myself carefully, especially in science.

    Very good post! ;-) Have a great Sunday night!

    Love in Christ,
    Vicki

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  2. I think I do understand what you are saying:

    The Bible is the looking glass that I pull out in the evening and see what has changed. The dust and dirt that has been applied and try to wash it away. Then in the morning I look and see that the hair is mussed and I completely missed that grease stain on my forehead last night.

    But besides the things I can do something about there are so many things I cannot do anything about. The child like complexion, the wide innocent eyes, the beardless chin. I want to look wise and knowledgable, not fourteen.

    In the end I fix what I can, but I know those features I cannot. And I go about my day concious both of the things I need to keep clean and tidy and the things that are simply features of me beyond my control or design.

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  3. You're not alone in this. I've even found that articles and such that I read on the internet can have a big impact on the way I think. I'll find 'facts' popping into my mind and think, "Just how did that get in there?"

    Very thought provoking post, Bailey!

    On another note, do you know I've heard very few Northern accents in my life (at least in person) and never a Wisconsin-ian accent?

    Oh, and speaking of Texas (I know, I'm random), our church had its annual meeting this weekend and the visiting preacher who stayed with us was from San Antonio. We compared sayings and such and there were very few differences. Thought that was neat! :)

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  4. Accents? Accents?!? Northerners don't HAVE accents! You've got it all wrong, it's everybody else who has accents! *grin*
    I understand. Being "in the world, but not of it" is a monumental task. If I had to do it on my own, I'd fail. Luckily, God is there to teach, guide, and convict. Rest in the knowledge that so long as you are seeking Him, He will show you the right path. As long as you are listening to Him, He will point out to you any things that need to be corrected in your life. Then, with your permission, He'll be happy to help you fix them.
    Rest in Him.
    Love in Christ,
    Julia

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  5. I will forever cringe at saying, "Rut Beer" without thinking, as well as, "Maygazine." Ack.

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  6. Truly - and I don't know how to express this - you all have blessed me so much today. Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for the understanding. I needed to write this and I loved hearing your feedback. *HUGS*

    Tragedy101 - Yes, exactly. Exactly.

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Hit me with your best thought! I'm very interested in your unique perspective. If you'd like to discuss things in private, feel free to email me! :)