I was having a conversation with another educator and he began our conversation with this statement: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” He believed in applying this concept to all of the aspects of life, so it would serve him well in the long run. The definition of this proverb states that “extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it.” The African proverb takes it a further step by stating:
Furthermore, Roman philosopher and scholar, Lucius Apuleius expands upon the African proverb by noting that:
At first the statement is a striking one but it is true of human nature. When one becomes too familiar with another person or a group or routine at times it can work out of your favour. It is not stating that you should be unapproachable but requiring a balance of your way of approaching people and situations.
At times I find myself guilty of doing one or the other. On one hand I speak a lot when I am around those who make me feel comfortable such as close family members or friends. Unfortunately after my disclosure, I feel like if I have over shared and retreat into my metaphorical shell for the protection of my soul. In contrast, I have the capacity to retreat into an area of comfortable silence, observe my surroundings and listen to the conversations of those around me. But that is another extreme, because I feel like a fly on the wall and I just even feel more out of place as I choose not to contribute to the social scene.
I am an introvert who learnt how to be an extrovert. I cherish those times alone but yet when I’m ready, I go searching for other people to make connections. At the same time, I have the capacity to feel alone in the crowd of people, existing in my own little world. Ironically, sometimes I am scared of crowds. My eyes dart around furtively, as I search for a way out. Yet I am not afraid to get lost in a crowd. My reactions depend on the level of safety and type of memories which I associate with any crowd of people.
Conversely, I’m not a fan of following the crowd or the latest trend. I like to observe and figure out if the situation is worth all of the hype and excitement. Lately, I’ve been choosing who to speak to unless I feel obligated. It is a better remedy for my soul. But as I have grown older, certain things do not offend me as before. The power lies in me with that allowance. I leave everything to God and at times I take it over for He has given us the gift of free choice, which is alright as long as I can do what is within my control. Then once I have reached the point of control, I let fate take over. Either way it is exciting.
I look around me and wonder what’s next. There are so many possibilities. Just the other day, I was stuck in the traffic with my sons and I wondered what do we all look like from the perspective of any observer. My dream is to take care of my children, be able to go to the beach and read and write to gain more knowledge and understanding. In addition, I would love to be paid to travel the world and to observe the different cultures. The traditional 9 to 5, pay check to pay check life is my reality and it feels like certain drudgery. However, life is unexpected. On one hand it is expected to turn out one way and on the other hand something amazing happens that you never thought of at all. But when you get time to reflect you’re glad it happened anyway.
So familiarity breeds contempt. It is a very truthful statement as it relates to relationships with friends and family and to your daily routine. The challenge here by is to do the unfamiliar, while balancing the content of your conversation and your time. Eventually you will end up feeling less contempt and more content. There is another saying that doing everything the same way over and over and expecting things to change is a form of insanity. Therefore what will you change about your life?