Never ask an Irish person either what the weather is like (we have far too many words for rain and the description will be lengthy and precise) or whether they love something or someone. If we have to describe love we tend very quickly to wander into the area of what we can't stand, and if we whinge about a person especially a talented or successful one, we ramble into the area of what we call begrudgery. (Basically talking some one down)
Although this is dying out in recent years I think the lasting effect is fairly evident even in myself. Keeping your light under a bushel, is the main result. Although I am definitely an introvert, this kind of hiding and the tendency to keep a low profile that I exhibit must have it's roots in this phenomenon.
Being told to keep your head down is common amongst oppressed peoples. Literally keeping out of the line of fire is drilled into the children of the oppressed from an early age. Don't trust anyone, tell THEM nothing and above all DO NOT draw attention to yourself.
When an elderly neighbour was asked about me by a new arrival in the area I was described as "keeping herself to herself"which I loved! It is true about me and for all of the above reasons I reckon it has been my way of staying safe and protecting myself from too much negativity.
But there is another side to this mouse who roared. I have stood up all my life for social justice and equality. I was inspired as a young women by our first feminists (it happened here in the 70s) and I am a complete radical when it comes to children's rights. I kept my own name, bank accounts and identity when I married in my twenties and refused a church wedding, objecting strongly to the patriarchal structures. I have continued to integrate these values into a social organisation which I built with a group of women over 20 years.
I giggle now wondering how I ever got away with any of this, my poor father! Are we all involved in walking this tight rope between our cultural conditioning and out true free nature? The older I get the stronger my true nature becomes and I trust it now in spite of that voice from the distant past which says........"look at her isn't she an awful show-off"
Well yes that just about describes the me I aspire to become!