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10 Things That Polish People Remember From Growing Up

10 Things That Polish People Remember From Growing Up

In many major U.S. cities, there is a substantial Polish and Polish-American population. Whether it be from Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow, or elsewhere, the Polish people have made a huge impact on many major American cities, mainly Midwestern ones such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. For that reason, we have compiled a list of 10 things that all Polish people remember from growing up.

1. You Cleaned Things Until They Shined, and Then Cleaned Again

One of the unfortunate stereotypes surrounding Polish people in America is that they tend to take on a lot of menial service jobs, such as that of cleaning lady. However, behind every stereotype is a kernel of truth. Polish people mostly maintain pristine homes in which not even fingerprints or the smallest crumb can be tolerated. If you have every found yourself polishing something beyond the point of usefulness, you might be Polish.

2. You Did Not Understand Why People Could Not Pronounce the Jumble of Z’s, K’s, S’s, and C’s that is your last name.

Pronunciation of Polish words and names for Americans and other non-Polish cultures is almost impossible. For example, my American roommate pronounces the beer Zywiec (zivvv-yetz) as Z-iiii-weck. Similarly, for Polish people, you never met a non-Pole who could pronounce your last name properly on the first try, or even after extended practice. Your name is just a mystery to them.

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3. You Have Been Handed Kielbasa, Pierogi, Kolaczki, etc as You Left Someone’s House

For me, the copious amounts of unique food define my life as a Pole. In this case, you have spent all day eating a huge feast at your relative’s house, and you are trying to be polite by leaving quietly and without a scene, as is the Polish way. However, a relative (your babcia, chocha, or someone else-most likely female) comes up to you as you leave and literally puts a roll of sausage in your hand– no bag or anything. It’s for the road and so you get grube (large/strong) right?

4. Paczki Day

If you don’t know this one, you have never been Polish or even met any Polish people. Paczki Day (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday elsewhere) is the day–no, the week– when your babcia (Polish for grandmother) turns her home into a bakery and churns out what seems like thousands of small, doughy, jelly-filled pastries. If it seems like your babcia is cooking for the whole neighborhood, don’t worry. It’s because she totally is.

5. You Find Yourself Avoiding Credit or Recognition For Most Things

When achieving success, Americans love to boast and dance and show-off, but when you get the job done, you put your head down and shrug your shoulders. I recognize this tendency in myself, especially when I played sports as a kid. Other kids would hit a home run and act like they won the Olympics. I would (eventually) hit home runs and shrug my shoulders. Why celebrate accomplishing exactly what you are supposed to accomplish?

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6. You Spent All Day Sunday/Your Entire Weekend In Some Combination of Church/Polish School

Even if you were fairly Americanized, you spent your whole weekend engaged in church and Polish school, learning the language and culture. You basically had a double life, acting like an American in American school and then cultivating some serious knowledge about your Polish roots and language on the weekend.

7. Speaking of Church, Pope John Paul II Was Basically a God

Depending on when you were born, your first memories may be of your Babcia praying to a picture of Pope John Paul II, who was basically a Polish version of 2008 Obama, except better because of his Divine Powers. Every Polish family had a picture of John Paul, the Pride of Krakow, on his or her wall, and, as you learned more about Catholicism in Sunday School, you wondered how the way your family treated him was not in violation of the First Commandment.

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    8. You Didn’t Understand Fashion and Often Wore Loud, Mismatched Outfits.

    Because it wasn’t necessarily immediately useful, you didn’t have time for fashion or other non-expedient appearance-related endeavors. As such, you often wore something like red-and-black checkers button downs with blue-and-yellow polka-dot shorts, not understanding that the tremendous clash Americans often pointed out was actually a real, visual thing, and not just some silly trend that would pass, as things in America often do. And don’t get me started on socks with sandals, regardless of how comfortable they are.

    9. You Spent Whole Summers, or Good Parts of Them, In Poland Itself.

    Depending on your ties to the culture, when school let out, many Polish people took off for the homeland, not to return until the last day possible. Mostly, these trips didn’t feel like a vacation, per se, but rather, they felt like something every culture should do but didn’t– going back to learn who you are and where you came from, so that you could get a better understanding of yourself. Bonus points for anyone who spent that whole summer on a farm in Poland, especially when you usually lived in a major Midwest city.

    10. You Have a Uniquely Polish Energy

    This one is hard to capture in words, because it mostly falls along those lines of “I know it when I see it” tests. But still, when first meeting someone of Eastern European descent, I can tell immediately if they are Polish, simply based on how active, kinetic, and efficient their actions are. Polish people are intensely efficient, and if you see someone who is standing out of the crowd by working harder than others, getting the job done by moving quicker without regard for their own personal well-being–that person is probably Polish, and other Poles would recognize that Pole simply by  body movements and the need to solve problems. It truly is unique.

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    Featured photo credit: Flag/David Ripamonti via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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