The Importance of Choosing the Right Microculture

microculture

Hi, this is Victoria. This is my first time writing an article, so I’m just going to dive in and see where it takes me. I have so many ideas to share, so let’s brainstorm together. Hope you enjoy!

Since I started working at Talent Hacks, I’ve realized how much a microculture can impact you—your decisions, your behavior, your life.

But what exactly is a microculture?

Microculture within a Macroculture

Microculture refers to the culture of a small group of people. Your family is a microculture. So are your school, university, group of friends, and workplace. Any group of people who share commonalities form a microculture.

Macroculture, on the other hand, is broader. It’s the culture of the society or country you come from. Large organizations can have both macro and microcultures, hence why intercultural management is so difficult. Macrocultures shape our behaviors, language, and beliefs. They instill certain stereotypes and norms from a young age, which can be deeply rooted. However, travel, reading, and learning can help us understand and sometimes challenge these ingrained behaviors.

Today, I’m focusing on microcultures and how they’ve influenced my life decisions, and probably yours too.

The microcultures you choose to be part of—your friends, partner, family, and workplace—shape your entire life.

From Nothing to Need

As you grow, you become more adapted to the microcultures around you. You get glued to them and don’t even realize it. In primary school, during those innocent childhood years, I didn’t care about microcultures. I had my best friend, we would split-slap as a greeting, and I was carefree. But getting into high school, things started to change.

From being an independent little girl who was just herself and enjoying her happiness, I noticed that people started to get bothered. That’s when I first understood that people are scared of diversity, and their defense mechanism is to humiliate others so they can feel more powerful.

In those moments, my need to belong to microcultures started. That’s when I really started to care about my appearance, my weight, my clothing. Was I acceptable? Was I “approved” by society’s standards? Did I have enough friends to be socially “normal”?

One thing I will never forget is when I used to swim competitively. My whole childhood was spent in the pool, and I enjoyed it. But the microculture of my friends made me give up swimming. No one ever said to me, “Stop swimming,” but I remember feeling jealous of my friends who had so much free time to just be home and do nothing. At that point in my life, I envied them. That’s when my swimming experience ended.

17 with 30 years experience

Moving on to university, the microculture of “You need to study something that will get you good money” and “You need to study something that sounds nice so your father can be proud” took over everything. How can a 17-18-year-old know what they want to do with their life? How did this idea that we need to start studying something immediately after finishing school come to be?

At that point, we don’t know anything; we don’t have experience in anything; we are clueless. We just know the basics from high school. How many other options in life can fulfill you without a bachelor’s degree? I had to quickly adapt to what I “love” and decide what to study.

After finishing my studies, I joined the microcultures of the workplace. From what I experienced, the goal of the work microculture seemed to be “How to make you quit.” It was about finding ways to show you’re not good at what you do, and there was constant competition. Then, there was the hierarchy: “I am the boss, and you should obey.” You are just an employee, where you have no rights, and you HAVE to work overtime, you HAVE to do whatever you are asked, even if it’s not part of your job role.

microculture

Choose your environment

I’ve always feared what people think of me and have often acted in ways deemed “right” and acceptable by the microcultures around me. I’m sure many of us do this unconsciously. The microcultures we choose can feel like a safety net, giving us a sense of belonging to a group with shared ideas and perspectives. However, this safety net can sometimes become a trap.

Without realizing it, you might choose microcultures that fit the “image” you want to project, rather than those that genuinely enrich your life. But do these groups truly add meaning to your life? Shouldn’t you surround yourself with people who help you grow, support you, and bring out the best in you? Remember, “best” is subjective and varies from person to person. What makes me happy might not be the same for you, and that’s perfectly okay. There isn’t one universal path to happiness. So, don’t lose sight of your true happiness amid the microcultures you belong to.

Teach them how to treat you

The past few years I’ve grown, emotionally and I owe it to Talent Hacks. I’ve realized that it’s okay to be different, to have unique ideas and opinions, and to do things in my own way. Throughout my life, I learned to be the quiet one with many thoughts but too scared to speak up, fearing I wouldn’t fit in. I would sacrifice my comfort and happiness in order to make another person happy. But this team has taught me that it’s okay to speak up—it’s your life and your decisions.

Why put yourself in uncomfortable positions to please others? What about your feelings? Isn’t it better to be true to yourself? With baby steps, I’m starting to spot all these different insecurities I have adopted from my previous microcultures, and I’m figuring out what I want to change. Or how my behavior should change. At Talent Hacks we always say, “You set the rules of how you want people to treat you.” It’s the way you treat them, and the way you behave to them, that gives them the access to treat you…. accordingly. We tell the same to all of our Corporate Retreat clients.

So If you are always the people-pleaser and the one who seems to be scared of saying “no” you’ll be treated the same way. They’ll know that you never say “no” and it will be easier for them to come and ask you for favors. I must admit, I still find it difficult. My thoughts are: “What if I seem rude?” “What if people think I’m selfish?” These what-ifs surround my thoughts and kill my peace.

What if there were no rules?

I’m starting to figure out who I really am, working on myself—or perhaps “fighting” with myself is a more accurate word. I’ve started a new hobby, jiu-jitsu, which felt completely out of my comfort zone, but surprisingly, it brings out the best in me. This microculture helped me understand that people of all ages and genders come together, sweat, roll, and accept that you need to be resilient. It’s totally okay to fail and try again. It’s incredibly challenging to re-learn who you are.

Who are you, truly, without any “rules”? What hats do you wear? Are you proud of them? Do you still wear those hats, or are you just accustomed to them?

Be proud of your beliefs. Stand out. It will be difficult because diversity scares people, and judgment often follows. But, at the end of the day, you are your own person. Your happiness is the most important thing.

So, my advice: find yourself. Work on that. Be yourself. Learn what you like and dislike. Take care of yourself. If you’re happy with yourself, you’ll project that happiness outward. If everyone is happy with themselves, the world becomes a happier place. In this chaotic world, starting with self-improvement can make a significant difference. Choose your microcultures wisely.

They’re the people who will influence and support your growth. Find people who are on the same frequency as you, who share the same goals, ideas, and beliefs. While we can’t control the macroculture we’re born into, we can choose the microcultures we want to be part of to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Victoria Sofokleous

Victoria is the office Harmonizer, bringing serenity and balance to the team. With a background in education and a natural gift for caregiving, Vic, as she's nicknamed, seamlessly blends empathy with curiosity to discover creative solutions.

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