Religion and Herbs: Women and Childbirth in Ancient Greece

by Ayesha Azeem, April 12, 2023

In recent years, there has been a large shift in medical research towards a focus on birth and early childhood, especially on environmental factors that can affect fetal health. This area of interest in obstetrics, however, is not something new and was actually demonstrated in Ancient Greek medicine, albeit with some misunderstandings. While Ancient Greek medicine got some things right – the main objectives of the Hippocratic oath, medical terminology, and human dissections﹣ a lot of it needed improvement. Specifically, Ancient Greek doctors and scientists hyperfocused on the differences between male and female anatomy rather than recognizing their overwhelming similarities, and this translated into their care of patients. The majority of medical care for women focused on menstruation and childbirth, mainly because female fertility played a large role in societal expectations of women living in Ancient Greece. 

Ancient Greek Culture and Women’s Reproductive Health

The emphasis on the childbirthing process in women’s medicine stems from the roles and expectations of women in Ancient Greek society. The practice of marriage in Ancient Greece existed primarily with the aim of birthing a legitimate heir, and the suspicion of infertility was a common cause of divorce (Dasen). Women were expected to produce sons that would grow up to become good citizens, contribute to the family’s bloodline, inherit their father’s property, and oversee the care of their parents in old age (Wise). This importance was emphasized through the worship of gods like Artemis, Elieithyia, Aphrodite, Zeus, and Demeter for their healing powers or association with childbirth (King). Artemis was worshipped in particular to seek assistance in labor and a safe birthing process, as she was known as the protector of young women, specifically as they transitioned from girl to woman and began motherhood (King). 

In addition to reliance on religion, midwives were available to assist women through the arduous process of giving birth. Childbirth was mainly handled by other women as midwives in ancient society, and men were rarely present during this moment, except as physicians (Dasen). Midwives were referred to as maimai or latrine and received training to help safely deliver children from other midwives or doctors (King). It was believed that Artemis herself was a midwife, and assisted her mother in giving birth to her twin Apollo (King). Despite this, childbirth was extremely dangerous due to a lack of understanding of female anatomy.

Medical Practices in Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greek practice of medicine focused their research mainly on gynecology, and this was reflected in their writings and medical treatment of mothers through the birthing process. Hippocratic writings on women’s medicine primarily concentrated on menstruation as a factor for disease. In Diseases of Women I, women are categorized based on whether they have given birth before. Women who have never been pregnant were believed to become more seriously ill from difficulties with menstruation compared to women who had children because they were denser and more robust (Hippocrates 9). Women were considered to be more porous and have softer flesh because they did not exert themselves physically as often as men, who were fitter (Hippocrates 13). Generally, diseases in women stemmed from menstruation, regardless of whether her symptoms were related to her sexual health or not. For example, if a woman was having trouble breathing, this was said to be due to her uterus suffocating her (Howe). Hippocratic writers believed that the uterus could move around inside a woman’s body and cause disease, a condition known as “wandering womb” that resulted in women experiencing “hysteria,” or suffocation caused by the womb (Zeltzer). The most common treatment prescribed to women during this time was to ‘dampen’ their uterus to keep it in place, either through sexual intercourse or pregnancy (Howe). 

Once pregnant, Ancient Greek physicians recommended several practices to ensure the birth of a healthy newborn. Pregnant women were told to participate in passive exercise on a stool or take a short walk to prevent the fusion of bones due to lack of use (Sonarus 20). Physicians like Sonarus also advised pregnant patients to eat neutral foods that were not greasy, fat, or pungent vegetables; avoiding pungent foods would ensure that the ‘seed’ is not ‘softened’ (Sonarus 20). They were also encouraged to avoid intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, as doing so would agitate the uterus and cause the seed to discharge (Sonarus 20). Women who did not follow these rules would have a fetus that is weak and malnourished, according to Sonarus (Sonarus 21). Pregnant women also wore amulets, with the belief that wearing objects with special powers would protect them and their child from harm. These amulets were made from different materials, like aetites, the “eagle-stone” or the “pregnant stone,” because they resembled embryos (Wise). The eagle-stone was wrapped in the skin of sacrificed animals and worn throughout the pregnancy, not to be removed until delivery because doing so would cause the prolapse of the uterus (Wise). 

Other rituals were performed during birth to hasten delivery or protect the mother and child from potential dangers associated with the birthing process. Such rituals included placing a Jericho rose in a bowl of water during labor, as the rose would unfold when exposed to moisture and ensure that the labor pains are brief (Wise). Despite these practices, complications in pregnancy were incredibly common. 

If complications in pregnancy arose, the woman was solely to blame for having a problem with her body. If a woman could not get pregnant, it was because her cervix or uterus was misshapen due to an imbalance of the humors in her body (Howe). Once a woman was pregnant, miscarriage was common, likely due to a lack of accurate knowledge surrounding women’s bodies. Women were blamed for having miscarriages as well, and Hippocratic writers cited an unhealthy or slippery uterus as the most common cause (Howe). Other causes included if a woman was beaten, fainted, was frightened, lost control over herself, or ate something she was not used to (Howe). The lack of hygienic precautionary measures, cesarean sections, and treatments like antibiotics or blood transfusions meant that any complications in childbirth that arose would likely lead to the death of the mother, infant, or both (Wise). Artificial abortion was rejected by ancient physicians with the reasoning that the natural creation of an embryo should be preserved and protected; Sonarus, however, supported abortion if there was a medical need for it (Sonarus 6). Despite this, Sonarus supported contraceptives over abortion, and recommended measures like pomegranate peels, the flesh of dried figs, and honey water to abort the fetus or avoid pregnancy altogether (Sonarus 24). 


The process of childbirth was one of the most significant moments experienced in the lives of Greek women, as this marked the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Through pregnancy and birth, women were able to contribute to the continuation and success of Ancient Greek society. The incredible value placed upon pregnancy and birth can be seen through the Hippocratic works published with guidelines for women to follow throughout their childbearing, the presence of amulets and rituals to ease the process and ensure the protection of the mother and infant, and the worship of gods and goddesses specifically for conception and pregnancy. Because it was deeply valued, childbirth came to be seen as the sole objective of a woman’s life, and medical care focused solely on this part of female anatomy and health. While pregnancy and childbirth is an integral part of women’s health, women were solely viewed through this lens in Ancient Greek society, evidenced by Ancient Greek physicians’ ‘expert’ advice during this time in a woman’s life.

Works Cited

Dasen, Véronique. “Childbirth and Infancy in Greek and Roman Antiquity.” Core, Accessed 26 Nov 2022.

Hippocrates. Diseases of Women I. Accessed 26 Nov 2022.

Howe, Keelin. “Pregnancy & Childbirth in Ancient Greece.” Women in Antiquity, 31 March 2017,,goddess%20of%20midwifery%20and%20childbirth. 

King, Katherine. “Who to Trust When Giving Birth in Ancient Greece, Gods or Midwives?” Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, 5 May 2021,

Sonarus. Sonarus’ Gynecology. Translated by Owsei Temkin, Johns Hopkins, 1991. 

Wise, Susan. Childbirth Votives and Rituals in Ancient Greece. 2007. University of Cincinnati, PhD dissertation.Zeltzer, Naomi. The “Cure” is the Affliction: Pregnancy and Childbirth as Healing and Harming in Ancient Greek Gynecology. 24 May 2021. Vassar College, Senior Capstone Project.

The Neuroscience of Habits: How Subconscious Neural Activity Holds Control Over Our Daily Lives

by Aviram Nessim, April 8, 2023

Among the notable findings that Wendy Wood, a social psychologist at the University of Southern California, illuminated throughout her decades-long career is that an astonishing 43% of daily actions are enacted on the basis of habit (Wood et al., n.d.). A habit, or psychological disposition to repeat past behavior, is gradually acquired through repetition and is reinforced by desirable outcomes (Wood et al., 2021). Habits can be subdivided into a continuum of strength, where habits of weak and moderate strength are performed less frequently and/or in more variable contexts than strong habits (Lalley et al., 2009). To better understand the causation of both beneficial and harmful habitual behaviors, it is critical to consider the various facets, both at micro and macro levels, impacting human behavior. Fortunately, extensive psychological research has delved into the neural mechanisms responsible for habit formation and perpetuation by way of unconscious, automatic actions, thereby promising valuable insights into their development and propagation. With this in mind, this article seeks to investigate the interplay of habits with regards to cognitive neuroscience, providing a more nuanced comprehension of habitual behaviors, their potential implications, and feasible solutions to eradicate unnecessary behavior for greater individual and societal benefit.

Within the brain, two major neurotransmitters, dopamine and glutamate, serve as the backbone behind the neural mechanisms involved in the habituation process. Dopamine acts in reward-motivation learning, while glutamate functions in the formation and strengthening of neural connections. When accounting for common cases in which a behavior is associated with a reward (such as gratification upon consumption of unhealthy food), dopamine is released into the striatum, invoking a pleasurable response (Volkow et al., 2010). Over time, the gradual release of glutamate will strengthen neural connections that underpin the behavior, fostering its automaticity and reducing reliance on volitional thought (Gardner, 2011). Therefore, once a behavior is reinforced, its chances of reoccurrence increase. 

Aside from this, a larger group of subcortical structures known collectively as the basal ganglia are responsible for habit formation and maintenance. The basal ganglia consists of several nuclei, including the striatum, which is composed of the caudate nucleus and the putamen, in addition to the globus pallidus. The striatum is the primary site for habit formation, while the globus pallidus is affiliated with inhibiting habitual responses (Gu et al., 2020). With its extensive regulatory framework, the basal ganglia orchestrates a feedback loop, which serves to strengthen the conduct of the behavior in response to a particular cue or contextual stimulus.  To the basal ganglia, however, it is of least concern as to whether this stimulus is advantageous or deleterious; if a person habitually reaches for unhealthy food in times of stress, the basal ganglia will proceed to reinforce such conduct whenever they encounter analogous circumstances or experience a comparable degree of stress. This subsequently makes the behavior more likely to occur in the future, even in the absence of conscious thought or effort (Seger et al., 2011).

Although habits are largely involuntary (Marsch et al., 2014), they are capable of being altered through habit reversal training (HRT). The process entails pinpointing the cue that prompted the behavior and substituting it with a more preferable one (Heinicke et al., 2020). In the same case of a person habitually reaching for unhealthy food in stressful situations, a substitution attached to an alternative behavior, such as taking deep breaths, necessitates a deliberate attempt to supplant the automatic response with the forceful implementation of a new habit. 

The intrinsic nature of habit is one of ubiquity and omnipresence﹣a universal, primordial relic deeply embedded within every human. While old habits die hard, gaining an understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in habituation can lead to greater control over conscious decision-making and initiative-taking in our lives. Through the continuation of global research as well as driving home the ways habits intertwine with daily life, we can be driven towards a more conscious society and a far more empowered world. 


Gardner E. L. (2011). Addiction and brain reward and antireward pathways. Advances in psychosomatic medicine, 30, 22–60.

Gu, B. M., Schmidt, R., & Berke, J. D. (2020). Globus pallidus dynamics reveal covert strategies for behavioral inhibition. eLife, 9, e57215.

Heinicke, M. R., Stiede, J. T., Miltenberger, R. G., & Woods, D. W. (2020). Reducing risky behavior with habit reversal: A review of behavioral strategies to reduce habitual hand-to-head behavior. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 53(3), 1225–1236.

Lalley, P., Van Jaarsveld, C., Potts, H., & Wardle, J. (2009). How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(6), 998-1009.

Marsch, L. A., Guarino, H., Acosta, M., Aponte-Melendez, Y., Cleland, C., Grabinski, M., Brady, R., & Edwards, J. (2014). Web-based behavioral treatment for substance use disorders as a partial replacement of standard methadone maintenance treatment. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 46(1), 43–51.

Seger, C. A. & Spiering, B. J. (2011). A critical review of habit learning and the basal ganglia. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 5, 66.

Volkow, N. D., Wang, G. J., & Baler, R. D. (2011). Reward, dopamine and the control of food intake: Implications for obesity. Trends in cognitive sciences, 15(1), 37–46.

Wood, W., Mazar, A., & Neal, D. T. (2021). Habits and goals in human behavior: Separate but interacting systems. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17(2), 590–605. 

Wood, W., Quinn, J., & Kashy, D. (n.d.). Habits in everyday life: Thought, emotion, and action. 

The Philosophical Lens of a Camera

by Grace Sargent, January 24, 2023


In American philosopher and writer Susan Sontag’s In Plato’s Cave, the concept of photography is examined from a philosophical standpoint and connected to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. She details the way in which we as humans interact with photography and the large role it plays in our lives. Ultimately, Sontag proclaims that we remain in Plato’s cave by emphasizing how our consumption of photography is flawed—that we take photographs to show the truth, when in reality, they are mere versions of it. The ideas she presents are incredibly insightful and should be taken into greater consideration by our media-centered society. Philosophers like Sontag encourage valuable introspection that could likely afford each of us a healthier mindset pertaining to media consumption, and ultimately improve our relationship with the media. 

Greater Context and Connections

To begin the discussion of Sontag’s piece, we must first understand the work from which she draws upon: Plato’s Allegory of a Cave. Although Sontag’s In Plato’s Cave talks specifically about photography, Plato was actually interested in investigating our relationship with knowledge and our view of the world as a whole, and he painted an obscure picture in order to set the stage for his theory. Plato describes an alternate universe where a group of people exist who have experienced their entire lives within a cave, and they have been restrained in a way where they are only able to view shadows of statues created by other people. For a long time they view these shadows as a true form of something—a man, woman, or horse. However, when they are forced out of their protective cave, they come to the realization that the shadows they took to be the truth were mere versions of the real objects that exist in our world. Plato then connected this with our perception of our surroundings, explaining that we are constantly misinterpreting false forms of reality as the truest ones. Overall, he implored us to seek greater knowledge, education, and understanding. Though his work is thousands of years old, its message is timeless; as a society, one of our main goals at all times should always be to actively search for new knowledge and make an attempt to constantly enlighten ourselves, moving ever-closer to the actual “truth.”

Sontag’s Standpoint

Sontag takes Plato’s brilliant approach and applies it specifically to humanity’s relationship with photography, aptly pointing out how centered it is around absolute reliance. She heavily emphasizes Plato’s aforementioned theory of forms, which is a crucial concept. Sontag clarifies how we believe photographs to maintain “narrowly selective transparency,” and contrasts it with photography’s subjective reality (Sontag 4). In other words, we see images as the entire truth and fail to recognize how they are manipulated and presented to us. A wonderful example Sontag provides is one quite common to us: not believing in something until we are given a picture of it, consequently proving its existence in our eyes. This directly correlates to the group of people in Plato’s cave, and how they wrongly viewed the shadows to be the absolute truth. In our modernized situation, the photograph is the misinterpreted truth, while the subject of the image is the real truth. 

Here it becomes crystal clear how, despite all the time that has elapsed since Plato’s allegory, we as a society remain stuck inside his cave—we have not yet mastered the ability to reach a greater depth of understanding regarding the media presented to us. In order to fully understand where Sontag is coming from, we must be shown instances where her point is validated. In her piece In Plato’s Cave, she gives the strong example of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) photography project conducted in the 1930s, where people from this organization were sent out to capture images of the effects of significant events such as the Great Depression. While one may believe that these photos are irrefutably unbiased, such an assumption isn’t necessarily accurate  due to the intentions of the photographers as they capture their carefully planned shots. At the end of the day, they were trying to present images of impoverished, grief stricken people. The pictures showcased to the public emulated this strong bias, similar to how the countless amount of photographs in our life now contain hidden truths. It is because of this that we cannot take images as entire truths of something. Rather, we should be more inquisitive of what is presented: what is being photographed? Who is photographing it? Why is this photographing taking place? These are all contextual questions that can help us uncover the truth that is being obscured, and can—referring back to Plato’s desires—aid us in our journey to acquiring greater knowledge and understanding. Furthermore, they will propel us further out of where we remain: Plato’s cave.


In conclusion, both Plato and Sontag present extremely thought-provoking approaches to areas of our life we tend to shield from deep questioning: knowledge and photography. Through their developed discussions, we are able to gain a better understanding as to where they are each coming from, but also to use them in conjunction with looking further into a singular idea. By listening to Plato, we realize that he has found a flaw in our interpretation of the world, urging us to take necessary steps in improving it. Subsequently, by listening to Sontag, we recognize those same faults in our viewing of photography, and how we should alter our damaging behaviors. By intently listening to each of them and viewing them as pieces in conversation, we are one step closer to reforming the way in which we approach modern photography.

Works Cited

Plato, and J. M. Cooper. Complete Works /Edited with Introduction and Notes by John M. Cooper. Hackett, 1997. 

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. RosettaBooks, 2005.

Our Voice: The Speaker in “In This Place (An American Lyric)”

by Marie Yamamoto, January 21, 2023

“In This Place (An American Lyric)” is a poem written by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman that presents empowering ideas surrounding American patriotism, identity, social justice, and hope. As the title suggests, it is a lyric poem presenting the metaphor that American history is a narrative poem in which every American has the power to contribute to. Characteristic of lyric poems, the work has no structured plot or identifiable speaker; rather than tell a story, it instead ultimately aims to rally Americans of all races, classes, and statuses to assert their place within the United States using striking retellings of the past and present that instill hope in the reader. Furthermore, despite narrating parts of Gorman’s life, the speaker does not directly refer to themself within the poem, which makes their identity ambiguous. As a result, the speaker takes on an almost omnipotent quality essential to the poem’s themes surrounding unity and Americans’ shared responsibility to empower themselves and others. The speaker of “In This Place (An American Lyric)” by Amanda Gorman may be read as both Amanda Gorman herself and the personification of America, which drives the poem’s ultimate message that every American has the power to shape history.

Gorman’s allusions to her own life draw on the readers’ and listeners’ pathos to highlight the beauty in the triumphs of marginalized groups within the United States from her point of view. Among the other stanzas in the poem, the speaker recounts:

… a single mother swelters

in a windowless classroom, teaching

black and brown students in Watts

to spell out their thoughts

so her daughter might write 

this poem for you (Gorman).

This heartfelt anecdote makes reference to Gorman’s own mother, an English teacher in Watts who encouraged Gorman to read and write from an early age. Since she wrote this lyric poem to be performed, the specificity of these circumstances and her indication that this specific poem has been written for the listeners make it appear as though the speaker is Gorman herself.  Beyond this, the inclusion of her background is a promise to others growing up under similar circumstances that they can find their voice despite the obstacles they face. Should children like the black and brown students she references here come across this poem, the speaker’s declaration that the poem is written for them may read as if she is acknowledging and appreciating their existence. As a black woman growing up in an impoverished neighborhood, Gorman’s allusion to her childhood serves to uplift those who may despair that no one may listen to them.

Another possible allusion to Gorman’s life is the speaker’s mention of “her friend Rosa;” the speaker is aware that “[Rosa] knows hope is like a stubborn / ship gripping a dock” and believes she embodies the promise that “… you can’t stop a dreamer / or knock down a dream” (Gorman). The speaker’s inclusion of “my friend” to describe Rosa gives this stanza an autobiographical touch. Especially when this is being performed by Gorman, she would appear to be the speaker of the poem as she is both endeared to this person and understands her mindset and conditions she is fighting for. Furthermore, Gorman’s personal connection to Rosa gives her dimension outside of her undocumented status. This stanza serves as a stark reminder that undocumented immigrants are not a homogeneous group of nameless people; they are all individuals who must fight to be accepted within the United States. Considering the other stanzas in the poem, however, the speaker may simultaneously take on a different persona.

The speaker may also be read as the omnipotent personification of America due to the multitude of perspectives the speaker presents throughout the poem and the solidarity they express towards the listeners and readers. From protests to hurricanes, the breadth of events and perspectives that the speaker calls upon reach across time and space. The speaker even tunes into America’s geography and architecture, describing Lake Michigan as “a great sleeping giant” and “a poem begun long ago, blazed into frozen soil, / strutting upward and aglow” (Gorman). That the speaker is unified with the voices of the American people and is even able to feel the land itself makes it appear as though the spirit of the country itself is speaking, perhaps through Gorman. This large-scale multifaceted perspective emphasizes the value of each person’s experiences in the grand scheme of American history, including the listeners and readers. The all-encompassing unity that the speaker feels toward the listeners and readers underscores the need for minority groups to remain hopeful for the future and continue to fight for equal treatment and acceptance within the United States. The speaker knows that those in power will try to oppress those fighting for social change but urges:

There’s a poem in this place–  

a poem in America

a poet in every American


who sees that our poem penned

doesn’t mean our poem’s end (Gorman).

Here, the speaker feels history being crafted in the very moment that the poem has the reader and listener’s attention; the reference to the present moment in the repetition of “there’s a poem in this place” reads as though the speaker is reaching out to the reader directly just as the speaker was reaching out to the past. Every person’s collective effort to establish themselves within the United States’ historical and political playing field is acknowledged and urged by the speaker even if their narrative is being actively drowned out by their oppressors. Thus, Americans are intertwined in and watched over by the grand narrative of the United States.

Whether the speaker is read as Gorman, the personification of America, or both, the ultimate plea of this poem is to keep the spirit of America alive by fighting for justice. The speaker gives those who come across the poem both a glimpse into Gorman’s life and the larger history of the United States to create an overarching picture of what it means to be American. Overwhelmingly, the reader comes away from the poem with an understanding that they are not alone. Regardless of their race, sexuality, gender, immigration status, religion, or social class, the reader is supported in their efforts to establish their place within history in both the past and present and to uplift the voices of those who may be oppressed.

Gorman’s poem may be read here.

Works Cited

Gorman, Amanda. “In This Place (an American Lyric).”, Academy of American Poets,

Timelapses and Traditions: What Did We Lose During the Pandemic?

by Vineeta Abraham, January 21, 2023

“10…9…8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3…2…1!”

The last bell of senior year goes off, followed by a chorus of cheers and whoops from the class of 2019. It’s a mess of tears, laughter, and breathless cries of “we did it!” as the familiar tune of the Sweet Caroline anthem plays us out of four long, exhausting high school years. 

I look around one last time at the people I have grown up with for the past seven years. It’s not hitting me quite yet that life is about to change so drastically for every single one of us. It didn’t hit me when I saw last year’s graduating class go through this same ritual, nor did it the year before that, or even before that. I always imagined it would be now, in this moment, that the collective realization would strike us speechless. But it doesn’t feel like that. I suppose it won’t until I find myself looking back at these memories four summers from now, reminiscing over old friendships and the walls I used to call home. 

And this moment. I’ll never forget this singular, loud, excruciating moment. 

As we slowly resurface on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic and the almost two-year “time freeze” it imposed on society, there seems to be a lot of buzzwords floating around like “return to normal” or “back to how things used to be.” We’re now beginning to see the implications of such a return and uncover some of the complications that we may not have foreseen. 

I don’t remember hearing of a graduating class before mine that didn’t participate in that jovial, last day ritual. Every year that I got to witness it, there were differences and modifications, but the end result was always the same: the graduating class gathered in their beloved lounge on the last day of classes, counting down the last ten seconds until the final bell rang. True to tradition, our own class followed suit, as we expected every class after us to do. We never saw an alternative. 

Herricks High School’s class of 2020 did not get the opportunity to carry out this beloved tradition — nor did the class of 2021. 

My sister, three years younger than I was, can still recall as a freshman watching my class count down to that last bell in 2019. When June of 2022 rolled around, I waited at home on her last day, expecting to hear about her own version of this bittersweet milestone. 

But her version never happened. As she tells it, her grade simply did not do it. 

Maybe half of the grade hadn’t even seen the tradition play out three years ago. Maybe those who did forgot about its existence. Whatever the reason, listening to my sister talk made me wonder somberly: was this tradition lost forever? 

After all, as most traditions work, we learn from those before us. But with nothing to observe, would the next graduating class even know about this tradition, let alone others? Would they realize all the things that they would never experience because they had never learned of them? 

It doesn’t stop at high school. As a twenty-one-year-old just dipping her toes in the sea of corporate life, I find myself wondering: what workplace traditions may I be missing out on? What workplace nuances got left behind when everyone packed up their offices in a frenzy in March of 2020? What is it like to physically visit your boss’ desk for two minutes? What exchanged glances across the office or inside jokes will I never get to “watch and learn?” How does happy hour even work with your colleagues? 

With an odd mishmash of employees who are cautiously beginning to return to in-person work and employees who have permanently set up camp in the comfort of their homes, how can I – or anyone else in this up-and-coming generation of the workforce – reasonably expect to learn all the ins, outs, and in-betweens of the office? 

Do we even want to? 

All this talk of drifting away from the old brings in a whole other topic of discussion: drifting towards the new. Will we, as the new generation of employees, seek to dig deeper into office roots to uncover the subtle traditions and conventions of years past? Or will we abandon these ideas altogether and brainstorm new and innovative traditions of our own? And if we choose the latter – leaving old rituals to gather dust in the bottom drawers of our supply closets – do we risk resentment from long standing employees who crave, as we hear in the midst of the buzz, a return to their idea of normal? 

Ignorance is NOT Always Bliss: An Experience with Healthcare During Pregnancy

by Ayesha Azeem, December 19, 2022

Mary’s Interview

One of the most significant events in a woman’s life is when she goes through her first pregnancy, an experience that changes her life forever. This experience can be further complicated by one’s culture and its respective social norms that may affect women negatively. I interviewed Mary [pseudonym given to protect her identity] in both English and Urdu about her experiences with pregnancy and the healthcare she received during all three of her pregnancies, one of which was experienced in her home country, Pakistan. Mary was only 22 years old when she got married and found out she was pregnant soon after. When asked about how she felt when she found out about her pregnancy, Mary described how little she knew about morning sickness, and because at-home pregnancy tests are not easily accessible in Pakistan, Mary had to make a doctor’s appointment to confirm her pregnancy. Mary describes the first emotions she felt after hearing the news as being excited and nervous: she was excited to have her first child and finally start the family she always dreamed of, and nervous because she truly did not know what to expect. However, Mary’s experiences with pregnancy arose in less-than-ideal circumstances that proved to make the duration of pregnancy very difficult for her: while Mary was living in Pakistan with her in-laws, her husband was in the United States, working two jobs to support his new family, his brothers, and his mother. Thus, Mary was understandably terrified when she heard that she was pregnant: she did not expect to have to live through this without her husband by her side. While Mary recounts her mother-in-law taking very good care of her – accompanying her to doctor’s visits, supervising her diet to ensure that Mary received the nutrients necessary for a pregnant woman, and preventing her from completing any household chores – she did not feel adequately prepared or supported without her husband. 

Lack of Knowledge About Pregnancy

Mary describes her experiences with prenatal care in Pakistan as disastrous. There was very little communication from the doctor; Mary would have monthly ultrasounds, would be told that her baby is breathing, and receive an injection at the end of every visit to “help with weakness.” Mary explains that the injection was very painful and was something she didn’t truly understand, as all of her questions would go unanswered during the visit. Unfortunately, Mary had very little knowledge of reproductive health and pregnancy; when she first experienced morning sickness, she thought she had food poisoning, and did not realize she was pregnant until she went to the doctor. Mary also did not know how to take care of herself during her pregnancy, as no one had told her that intense exercise was ill-advised. Mary recounts playing cricket with her cousins one day when she started bleeding from her vagina. Rather than panicking and rushing to the hospital, Mary simply assumed that her period had begun; it was not until she had asked her mother-in-law for a pad that Mary realized the severity of the situation. Thankfully, her mother-in-law’s quick judgement saved Mary’s fetus from further harm. 

Unfortunately, the education system and healthcare system had failed Mary so horribly that she had never learned about the birthing process until the actual day of her delivery – she spent this day in a panic, trying to figure out how she would survive. After Mary had given birth, the obstetrician had unknowingly left a dangerous blood clot unaccounted for in Mary’s cervix, leaving Mary with excessive bleeding. The obstetrician removed the clot after a week via an emergency operation, but while the physical symptoms were removed, this event effectively scarred Mary psychologically. 

Following the birth of her first child, Mary fell into a deep depression. This was not postpartum depression, but instead due to the almost instantaneous change in her mother-in-law’s behavior once her grandson was born. Previously very caring, Mary’s mother-in-law’s attitude toward her was now unwaveringly cold. She became very cruel, constantly hurling verbal abuse and treating her like a common housemaid rather than the wife to her oldest son. 

Arrival to the United States

When Mary arrived in the United States, she expected that things would change drastically in her life and reproductive experiences. Mary hoped that she would now receive the supportive care she dreamed of from her husband. However, her expectations were never met. Mary’s husband was far from living the American dream, working long evening shifts as a taxi driver in an attempt to make ends meet for his family in America as well as abroad in Pakistan. Mary found herself more alone than ever before. Whereas she had her mother-in-law to take care of the house throughout the duration of Mary’s pregnancy, Mary now had to do everything herself during her second and third pregnancies. Not only did she have to cook food and maintain the house, but Mary also had to attend doctor’s appointments by herself as her husband was often catching up on his sleep. Whereas Mary always had her brothers and father to accompany her when she left the house, Mary now had to learn how to be independent after a life of depending on others. Without the right support from her mother-in-law, mother, or husband to help her throughout her experiences, Mary often felt lonely, and it was not long before she relapsed back into depression. 

Differences in Healthcare Between the United States and Pakistan

While her personal life was exceedingly difficult, Mary found a light at the end of the tunnel: the vast difference in healthcare quality in the United States compared to Pakistan. Here, Mary found that her obstetrician was willing to listen to her complaints and work on finding solutions together, actually allowing Mary to be heard. Mary described the healthcare she received in America to be very progressive and professional; her doctors informed her of their concerns every step of the way and educated her on several things she knew nothing about, reflective of the poor health education she received in Pakistan – Mary took classes on breastfeeding, the child birthing process, and taking care of her child after birth, learning more in a few months than she had ever learned in Pakistan. 

A Desire to Learn

Unfortunately, Mary’s experiences in both Pakistan and the United States are common for many women in both countries. As Mary explained in the interview, she did not have an adequate amount of knowledge regarding reproductive health and pregnancy, and thus often made mistakes in taking care of herself. 

In the article titled “‘I Thought I was Dying:’ (Un)Supportive Communication Surrounding Early Menstruation Experiences,” the researchers conclude that women who menstruate hold a desire for knowledge about the health and practical information regarding menstruation, and that there is inadequate communication within close relationships regarding menstruation and reproductive health for young women (Rubinsky, Gunning, & Cooke-Jackson, 2018). The same can unfortunately be said for pregnancy; many women express a desire to know more about the pregnancy process and how they can take care of themselves. 

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, there is restricted access to programs that focus on advancing knowledge on female sexuality and reproductive education. In many schools across the country, health classes cover every topic other than reproduction, because it is seen as “vulgar” to speak about such topics in a co-ed classroom. This leads young women to develop negative attitudes towards their bodies and reproductive health as they learn through social cues that their sexuality is meant to be secretive and cannot even be shared with their parents (Rubinsky, Gunning, & Cooke-Jackson, 2018). Further, women like Mary are often unprepared when they become pregnant, not knowing what to expect or how to take care of themselves. Their mothers do not provide the right knowledge to them because their own mothers never did, leading to a chain of dangerous ignorance that partially explains the high maternal mortality rate seen today in both countries. 

The Treatment of Women in Pakistan

This negligence of women’s reproductive health stems from a systemic disregard for women, who are often deemed to be “inferior” in Pakistan’s society, even today. Women in Pakistan are held to different standards than men, as they are expected to compromise more in relationships, leaving their personal lives for a permanent devotion to their husband and his family. In the event of a divorce, regardless of the cause, the ex-wife is often put under intense scrutiny and is blamed for not being a “good enough wife.” 

Women’s experiences with mental health, menstruation, and other aspects of reproductive health are often disregarded, and women who speak up about their trauma are carelessly labeled as overdramatic attention-seekers. These women are cast aside and deemed to be ungrateful of the many blessings they have, such as having a husband and children with no long-term medical conditions – effectively staining their reputations in response to speaking up about the trauma they have faced. 

In Pakistan, women are expected to act similar to how Professor Lobel characterizes an “ideal woman” in her lecture on autoimmune disorders – suffering in silence, not asking questions, and always being compliant. Women who are vocal about the issues they face – whether it is personally or in a healthcare setting – are treated poorly for standing up for themselves. 

Gender Roles and Mental Health

Further, women’s emotional experiences with pregnancy and other health concerns are often affected by the lack of support they receive from their families, especially their husbands or significant others. Like Mary, many women are expected to carry out familial duties and are part of a family system in which others depend on them. These women often prioritize the health of other family members above their own, proving to be very harmful for women who are pregnant and need to take care of themselves. 

As stated in the article titled “Emotions and Mental Health During Pregnancy and Postpartum,” the strains associated with balancing work and family life with reproduction and child care are major stressors that affect women’s emotional states during pregnancy and after childbirth (Lobel & Ibrahim, 2018). In Pakistan, most women are expected to work as housewives, regardless of the amount of education they’ve had, with a lifelong commitment to caring for their children and their husbands who come home from work each day. Because of these sociocultural norms that also exist in the United States, male partners are often excused from the responsibilities that revolve around child care and household chores, even when their female partners are pregnant or otherwise unable to complete these duties. These expectations substantially prevent pregnant women from getting the rest and prenatal care they need to ensure their good health as well as their fetus’s. 

The Patient-Provider Relationship

Women often receive inadequate care when they visit healthcare providers, specifically obstetricians. As Professor Marci Lobel and Lisa Rosenthal state in the article titled “Explaining Racial Disparities in Adverse Birth Outcomes: Unique Sources of Stress for Black American Women,” power plays an important role in the patient-provider relationship, and women often report feeling dissatisfied and powerless when interacting with gynecologists and obstetricians, as the medical field of reproduction is often characterized by control over women’s bodies (Rosenthal & Lobel, 2011). This is especially true for the healthcare system in Pakistan, in which physicians often dominate the patient-provider relationship and make health decisions without informing the patient and obtaining consent. As Mary stated in her interview, she would be given an injection to combat “weakness” every month with little say in the matter. The patient-provider relationship in Pakistan makes it difficult for patients, especially female patients, to vocalize their concerns about their health and receive answers to the questions they want to ask. 

In addition, it is quite difficult to access quality healthcare in Pakistan, as there is no national health insurance. While there are government-funded hospitals, the care given at these facilities are often not the best and patients still have to pay fees. Private hospitals are often considered to provide the best care one can receive in Pakistan, but even at these facilities, the quality of care could be much improved. Mary described her experiences with visiting a doctor in a private practice, and recounted that even though her obstetrician had won multiple awards and was considered the best in her hometown, the care Mary received was subpar at best. This was because the doctor neglected to treat Mary as an actual human being and decided to instead take control over the decisions Mary was meant to make. 

Furthermore, there are very few pharmacies in Pakistan like CVS or Walgreens in the United States that have standardized rates for medications, allowing physicians to charge patients as much as they like without much retaliation. Thus, patients often delay seeking medical care, especially obstetric care, for fear of not being able to afford all the fees associated with the visits. This delay in seeking patient care due to cost, coupled with the lack of advanced technology in Pakistan, contribute to Pakistan having one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. 

Looking to the Future

As Mary’s experiences indicate, much work is needed to improve the healthcare experiences of women who go through pregnancy and other reproductive events in their lives, both in the United States and in Pakistan. Rather than completely medicalizing patient care, we as a society need to work to mitigate the causes that lead to the many complications women face during pregnancy and childbirth, including lack of knowledge, lack of support, and unbalanced power relationships in healthcare. Many of the sociocultural norms in both Pakistan and the United States affect the way in which women see themselves and prioritize their health, which can later affect the lives of their children. Equal treatment of women, both personally and professionally, is essential to improvements in mental and reproductive health outcomes, and can only be done when sociological efforts are made to change the way women are perceived by their loved ones as well as in public. 


Rubinsky, V., Gunning, J. N., & Cooke-Jackson, A. (2020). “I thought I was dying:” (Un)supportive communication surrounding early menstruation experiences. Health communication, 35(2), 242–252.

Lobel, M. & Ibrahim, S.M. (2018) Emotions and mental health during pregnancy and postpartum. Women’s Reproductive Health, 5(1), 13-19. 10.1080/23293691.2018.1429378

Rosenthal, L., & Lobel, M. (2011). Explaining racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes: Unique sources of stress for Black American women. Social science & medicine (1982), 72(6), 977–983.

Cooperation Against All Odds

by Marie Collison, December 18, 2022

Would you ever throw your best friend under the bus? Probably not. What if the reward was to have your entire education paid for? What if you were being threatened with indefinite jail time if you did not do so? These questions address a fascinating concept often reviewed in the fields of game theory and sociology: the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Here is an example of the Prisoner’s Dilemma: pretend you and a friend of yours just robbed a bank. Not a close friend, but someone you may have shared a class with at some point. You got caught and are now waiting in separate interrogation rooms. You are unable to communicate with one another, nor have you spoken about any sort of plan if you two were to get caught. After some time, an officer walks into the room holding a sheet of paper. The officer tells you that if you sign the paper, which blames the entire incident on your friend, you will be set free and won’t have to serve any jail time. In turn, your friend will be condemned to 10 years in prison. Alternatively, if you don’t sign the paper and your friend does, you will serve 10 years in prison and they won’t serve any time. If neither of you sign the paper, you will each serve 2 years. If you BOTH sign the paper, you each are sentenced to 6 years (see below for a diagram). What would you do?

The logical collective answer would be for neither of you to sign the paper, right? You would still serve 2 years in jail, but the total time spent in jail between the two of you is only 4 years as opposed to 10 years (if only one of you signs) or 12 years (if you both sign). However, on an individual level, the choice to sign the paper is an obvious one. If you sign the paper and your friend doesn’t, you won’t have to serve any time. The problem resides in the fact that your friend’s best move is to also sign the paper. The payoff of signing the paper (at best, 2 years and at worst 6 years) is much more appealing compared to the consequences of not signing the paper (at best 0 but at worst 10 years) on both ends. This means the most likely outcome will be the both of you signing the papers and each serving 6 years. Ideally, the two of you would each refuse to sign the papers and would each serve 2 years. This would in turn be the collectively most optimal choice. In the one-time play, each person’s interests are in complete conflict, which makes cooperation extremely difficult to achieve. 

At the heart of this problem lies the human nature towards both altruism and selfishness. If you were to play the game once, the outcome of 6 years would be unfortunate but better than 10 years. However, if you begin to play the game over and over again against the same person, the matter of history affects your future choices. Therein lies the problem: how do you optimize your strategy to “win” against any other person that you face? This is when a person’s decisions towards either altruism or selfishness matter and affects future interactions. 

In the 1980’s, Robert Axelrod, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan sent out an invitation to a special tournament. This invitation was sent out to a group of very prominent game theorists, people’s whose entire lives were dedicated to studying puzzles like the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Axelrod’s only instruction: submit a computer program that would win at the iterative Prisoner’s Dilemma game. To clarify, winning meant coming out of the game with the fewest years of prison. Each strategy would play every single other strategy and the winning strategy would be the one to result in the fewest years. 

There were numerous strategies of varying complexities. Simple strategies included always defecting (betraying your friend) or never signing (cooperating together and not giving the other up). Another strategy submitted was random (cooperating 50% of the time and defecting 50% of the time). All of the strategies were complete at the time of submission, so no changes could be made to adapt to different opponents. In the end, only one strategy reigned supreme: tit-for-tat. This strategy even won again when Axelrod repeated the tournament with newly submitted strategies.

The tit-for-tat strategy is fairly simple. It consists of two components:

  1. Begin by cooperating.
  2. Match the decision your opponent made in the previous round until the match is finished.

For example, if the match starts with your opponent cooperating, you would in turn cooperate in the next round. If your opponent then defects in round two when you cooperate, you would then defect in round three. 

Against simple strategies, it is fairly easy to analyze how the tit-for-tat strategy holds up. When against an “always cooperate” strategy, the entire match is rainbows and smiles as the two easily cooperate the whole time. Against the random strategy, both the tit-for-tat and the opponent will be 50/50 on cooperating/defecting. Against the “always defect” strategy, the tit-for-tat strategy only loses in the first round before both strategies begin to turn on one another for the rest of the match. So why does this strategy work and what does this mean in the grand scheme of the world?

The strategy works because the strategy can never be taken advantage of for multiple rounds as in the “always cooperate” version, but it will also not miss out on the benefits of cooperation. What this tournament outlines may not be the “best” strategy, as it will stoop to the level of a strategy such as “always defect;” however, it outlines possibly the most optimal strategy to come out on top. It also outlines some tips on how to promote cooperation:

  1. Teach reciprocity: when there are more tit-for-tat strategies in play, the success of other strategies diminishes.
  2. Insist on no more than equity: the tit-for-tat strategy doesn’t expect more than equal action and does not perform more than equal action.
  3. Respond quickly to provocation, but be forgiving: when the opponent defects, the tit-for-tat strategy immediately defects in the next turn. Don’t do more than match your opponent’s last action even if your opponent defects multiple times. 
  4. Don’t be envious: do not try to “beat” your opponent, simply match their previous decision. 
  5. Begin as open as possible: like in the tit-for-tat strategy, begin by opening yourself up to cooperation, making it possible to have the most ideal outcome rather than beginning on a sour note.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma goes beyond a simple mind game: it teaches us that cooperation can be difficult to achieve, even in situations where cooperation is clearly the optimal solution. It is a guide, not a perfect one, but a well tested one, on how individual rationality can lead to collective irrationality. Although this may seem like one giant philosophical problem that may not seem directly relevant, the Prisoner’s Dilemma extends well beyond theory and into the reality of human interaction. 

Works Cited

Axelrod’s Tournament. Accessed 26 Oct. 2022.

Shah, Rina. “Robert Axelrod: The Prisoner’s Dilemma Simulation.” Shortform

Books, 6 Jan. 2021, Accessed 26 Oct. 2022.

‌Tit For Tat. 17 Sept. 2019,

Casablanca (1942)

by Vishruth Nagam, December 16, 2022

Casablanca (1942) was released in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The plot of the film is set in Casablanca, Morocco, in December 1941 before the U.S. entered World War II (WWII). Based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, Casablanca featured an accomplished production team and cast, who adapted upon the play’s anti-Nazi, pro-French themes. The film’s production, drama, and themes have grounded the lasting reception of the film and continued discussion on pertinent topics in the humanities. This infographic explores the factors, complexities, and dynamics contributing to the success of Casablanca as a classic.

Individualism Impacted From Literary Studies

by Jamie Budhram, October 28, 2022

As I sit under the trees on a New York City park bench, I am reminded of The Zoo Story, in which two men from different walks of life relate to each other’s struggles that are rooted in their developed society. I feel connected to the idea of the unknown creating loneliness. As I watch people from all different cultures and backgrounds pass by, I realize I know nothing about each person, nor do they know me. Yet, that is the way we begin to understand the unknown: by placing a persona onto others. Based on our ignorance, it’s clear that as citizens we decide who is important to us and who isn’t, which is determined by our actions. 

However, I would argue it is not entirely our ignorance, but rather the shallowness of our individualism. Individualism is defined as a social or cultural tradition or personal outlook that emphasizes the individual and his or her rights, independence, and relationships with other individuals (“APA Dictionary of Psychology”). Emphasizing individual rights can be seen as shallowness, as being shallow means lacking emotion and consideration, even though it ultimately strengthens individual purpose and ambition. Without individualism, a person defines their contributions to society, as well as themselves, from an open-minded perspective. 

To fully answer the question of the factors that impact our individualism, I sit and watch people walk by. Society affects our individualism because it pertains to not only yourself but to unknown people as well. W.E.B. Du Bois argues about the actions of the South where Black Americans were to never be leaders, but should instead work to give to others, and for those who ever strive to be leaders, they should be supported by their communities (Du Bois 62-63). I see those who live for themselves and those who live for others, with everyone having different beliefs, thoughts, and feelings that affect the way they perceive themselves. Watching a white man dressed in a suit and designer jewelry creates a feeling of inferiority that either triggers motivations for success or dispirited thoughts of failure. Now I see a person or similar race and it seems to be an inspiration. Is it not human nature to be utterly selfish? Then why do I feel a sense of empowerment from seeing someone from my background succeeding in something? This phenomenon exists within society, where the feeling of being inspired by someone similar to you leads to believing that the prospect of success is real for those like you. Du Bois discusses the feeling of disempowerment from seeing success in others because it seems that if others have so much success, then there is barely any success “left” for other individuals, and that is why we feel disempowered (Du Bois 101-103). Society lives in a way in which it functions to empower the individual, but it is the way we perceive each other that makes it difficult to wake up the next morning and challenge our abilities, since some people have so much more success than others. 

I get up from the bench and decide to walk in the crowd of people, but it feels fast and uneasy as if I am no longer walking but rather observing. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, describes such a feeling in his book, How to Walk, making me question how uneasiness affects the way I feel about the places I enter. As I walk into Stephen A. Schwarzman Library with the year of establishment, 1967, in very visible and bright writing, I envision what it looked like for the people who designed and built this place with each step. After viewing all the men, women, and children passing by the library, I start to question how they would describe their experiences here. Ultimately, everything I have written is from a male’s perspective, which Virginia Woolf discusses with her understanding of the way history is taught (Woolf 119-120). Everything I have learned and what I am currently writing creates an image and thought that only I can truly understand. Even by describing the intricate designs on the ceiling or the fine details of the statues, it would still not be enough to fully immerse the reader the way that a firsthand experience would. This is because history, as it is written with every moment in time, tries to replicate the experience, but does so unsuccessfully. It has been said for centuries by figures such as Winston Churchill, George Santayana, and Edmund Burke that those who do not acknowledge history are doomed to repeat it, and thus there is a stigma that history should never be repeated. However, we push people to learn from their mistakes, so why treat history differently? The reason why past experiences are never replicated seems to be that we shun history. This shunning begs the question: is it possible that the truth we shun about history isn’t so true? We all want what we have learned to be the truth, but what if it is not? What if something taught for centuries starts crumbling down when a new “truth” arises? That’s how history wants people stuck; it gives a confirmed answer to everything so others do not question or move away from it. According to the U.S. Historian Henry Glassie, “history is not the past but a map of the past, drawn from a particular point of view, to be useful to the modern traveler.” This attitude affects the way we look at the whole world. For instance, America is known for its dark history, yet there is a strong sense of nationalism that disregards what used to exist. Whether it be for a woman, a Black American, or any group of individuals who have been oppressed by America, there is continuous forgetfulness for those who have suffered. There’s no truth in history, only perspective. In Japan, for example, the government does not acknowledge the Nanjing Massacre and the murder of thousands of Chinese citizens by neglecting to include it in their history textbooks. In this case, their perspective– or their truth– exists differently from what others believe, whether it be just or unjust. No one can truly understand unless they have lived through the Massacre. Now when I walk, I understand that I am in control of history, but some may have different perspectives and versions. 

A person’s ancestry affects their present-day self. Growing up Indo-Guyanese in America caused somewhat of an identity crisis within me. We leave a place that was once called home to live in American society and form new habits that revolve around the new culture. In both countries, I am asked where I am from. Where do I truly belong if no one knows where I belong? What is my community? The suffering of my ancestors, those tears and anger, make me who I am today. Yet, grasping this suffering is difficult when it’s presented in front of others. In some way, shape, or form, generational trauma exists within everyone, but it isn’t necessarily addressed or educated about. It is similar to Virginia Woolf discussing lesbian relationships within literature, a drastic change from older literature because they were not as direct about the former taboo topic (Woolf 88-89). In the “Book of the Dead,” dating back to ancient Egyptian society, two men in a homosexual relationship hid their relationship until death. It’s clear that in Egyptian culture, such relations were deemed wrong. This demonstrates how literature takes on the role of educating about change and that every individual has the choice to learn from the literature.

Being able to accept your current individual self is made difficult when faced with the fact that in the past, others could not accept themselves. This psychological concept follows practices taught from generations ago to this very day. For example, an atrocious father can place those same habits he knows onto his children, hurting their future children. It can detrimentally impact families and loved ones, but with change, generational trauma can heal. Racial trauma, for example, is connected to all of this by making people of our era want to fight for our rights more desperately. By affecting the person, it can cause an intense amount of distress, isolating themselves despite the fact that they did nothing wrong, but simply because something could have triggered them to feel that way. The task of improving or healing generational trauma isn’t easy, especially when culture is involved. Asian culture, for example, is filled with ideals of toxic masculinity and emotionless discussion with loved ones. That is why there is a constant need, especially for American immigrants, for some type of therapeutic experience. Cultural issues like toxic masculinity, social judgment, and lack of self-awareness, seek to impact generational trauma, ultimately playing a role in why an individual thinks and acts a certain way. With this in mind, expectations come in, through which our loved ones impact the individual when it comes to learning about who they are currently and who they will become. 

Within families, the word expectation means fate. Du Bois argued that Black Americans had to decide whether their lifestyles were going to be based on representing the Black American community or if they would be based on their personal beliefs and thoughts (Du Bois 3-4). This seems to be the same case today. When talking to my peers, there is a clear consensus that the struggles of our immigrant families widdle down our options to being either a doctor or lawyers. Judgment and comparisons with others scare families, especially when it comes to status or money. It puts ceaseless pressure on an individual, with some regret if they did not fulfill that expectation. This is why I believe families look at it as fate. When an individual fails to meet what is expected of them, they are shunned, or if they go onto separate routes, they are ridiculed for having their own thoughts. This goes back to the idea of whether an individual truly lives for themselves or if they live for the validation of others. This continuous cycle of questioning every decision made on its properness seems never-ending. With peers, it seems as if it’s a race to see who will succeed the highest rather than who will be the happiest. This concept of having something that should be wanted into something that is needed affects every individual simply because they want to live as others do. 

That is why I observe and watch. This shallowness that exists from generational trauma, society, history’s perspective on truth, and family and peers, disrupts the continuation of unpacking our individualism. Observing the people of the world is like watching the stars at night; there are millions of unique ones that we look at. We focus on the constellations that enhance the night sky’s beauty and we envision how bright it is all across the world, and simply look up at what exists now.

Works Cited

“APA Dictionary of Psychology.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 

Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. New York, Johnson Reprint Corp, 1968.

Woolf, Virginia. Room of One’s Own. Rupa & Co, 2022.