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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 January 3, 2020

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

    The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

    1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

    Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

     I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

    To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

    And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

     2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

    Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

    3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

    Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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    4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

    The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

    5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

    Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

    6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

    Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

    7. Positive people smile a lot!

    When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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    8. People who are positive are great communicators.

    They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

    9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

    One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

    10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

    Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

    How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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    I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

    Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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