What is your experience with communities that have a strong uncertainty avoidance?

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By Alison Wonder



In Loitoktok, my hometown, we would score very high on Hofstede’s dimension of uncertainty avoidance, where ‘different is dangerous’ holds true (to the best of my knowledge). Having partly grown up in the coastal region, I was seen as outright dangerous due to the stereotypes associated with it. The coast is often stereotyped as a place where demons roam in broad daylight, interacting with residents.

Being an introvert with an obsession for nature only made it more challenging for me not to stand out. I would take aimless walks to different places just to admire the sunlight or sunset from various angles, and my fascination with rivers could make me sit with my feet in the water for hours. While these attributes were frowned upon, no one dared to question me. Instead, they labeled me as a weirdo during my teenage years.

I was the girl parents warned their children against, simply because I loved wearing short shorts and skirts, which were considered unacceptable. Most were told to stay away from me, and I think the root of the problem was the strong uncertainty avoidance embedded in the culture. Being different automatically meant being dangerous.

Despite being the weirdo, I had no trouble finding solace in my own company or in the company of those with weaker uncertainty avoidance. With these few individuals, I formed strong bonds that have lasted for years.

High school was the most challenging phase. Within a year, I was labeled as a devil worshiper. This misconception arose from my passion for sunrise, sunset, and stargazing, as well as the fact that I kept a private diary, diligently writing in it every night before bedtime. People rumoured that I wrote the names of my intended victims in this diary. Little did they know that it contained my innermost thoughts and reflections.

To further complicate matters, I was a heavy sleeper, and one time, the Christian Union (CU) attempted to pray over me while I slept. However, I slept through the whole ordeal, leading to rumors that I was actually in the sea, and that they had prayed for a body without a soul.

Additionally, my academic excellence led to bizarre rumours that I could supernaturally read others’ minds and use that knowledge to pass exams. These misunderstandings, in my opinion, were products of a culture with a strong uncertainty avoidance tendency.

Nonetheless, I found profound joy in those who showed genuine interest in my uniqueness and asked questions that led to lasting friendships.

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