A – 1997 – Temerin
High school student at Grammar school in Bečej. Planning to study sociology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad in 2015.
Q: You were born here? Could you tell me how you’ve spent your childhood here?
A: Well, yes. Mostly round the building I lived in. I had friends who gathered there as a matter of circumstances. We were hanging out with them. I very much cared about friendships in my childhood, it was very important to me to fit in regardless of how they might react to my presence. It happened, of course, I remember some good times and those not so good. I think I had little influence over it, I believe my childhood influenced my general understanding of society later on. I learned some things, how much it’s actually… how much it’s not necessary to impose yourself into where you don’t… where you simply see, you feel that you don’t belong. Maybe that’s because I’m not very social in general, but I’m very communicative and that’s my good side.
Q: Since you mentioned that people shouldn’t impose themselves where they feel they don’t belong, if that was a part of those bad aspects of your childhood, could you tell me something about it, describe one of those situations?
A: Well, I actually overcame that kind of situations, they didn’t really cause me some emotional pain as they have to my parents, but I didn’t pay attention to it then. I only cared about socializing and I have socialized and made the best of my childhood. I can say I’ve spent all of my childhood playing, even when I started going to school, I neglected first few years of elementary school, until I grew up a bit and realized why I should focus on school, why education is important. There were some situations, but it appears to me I created a defense mechanism which I still use to fight against it and I think I’m successful in it, regardless of what people say or do, I believe I have a solid defense mechanism. Probably because of it or because of my nature, I don’t know.
Q: Both options are good. Could you tell me something about that defense mechanism?
A: It’s my personal one, I’ve built it without any outside influence at least that I’m aware of, without advice or something like that. It came naturally and it helps a lot. It doesn’t allow some people that I don’t care about to access my inner self, to hurt me in any way. Of course, that defense mechanism doesn’t include insulting or hurting people in any way, no way, only my attitude, the natural guard that helps me fight it. Yes, I believe everyone should have their own personal, individual defense mechanism because not every fool deserves to know things about you that you don’t want them to know. Or to hurt you in some way. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, right, but again that defense mechanism helps you defend yourself and overcome that situation and recover.
Q: Thank you.
A: You’re welcome.
Q: I would like to ask you something, since you said we all have to build our own mechanisms. What do you think how could people build better defense mechanisms, since they can be a product of fear or simply desire for isolation or preservation of one’s personality without attacking other people? How could we improve communication between people, so those attacks of other people on our personality wouldn’t even happen?
A: Well, actually, through communication. It seems to me that such things can be overcome through communication. It’s important to talk to those people openly, to tell them our problems, to hear their problems. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal, but to let that person know that you’re being honest, and actually through getting to know new, different people, it builds tolerance and, in a way, empathy which is very, very important in life even though people who don’t have it might be getting by better in a material sense, but it appears to me that’s a matter of choice or maybe nature.
Q: We never know between those two. OK. You mentioned honesty. Honesty could be one of the main principles that guide us through life. Could you tell me what were the main principles that guided you through life?
A: My inner energy and my openness. I believe I’m honest though, as I said before, I don’t socialize with a lot of people, but maybe that’s the reason everything sucks sometimes. Sometimes I might feel bad, but I realize that I made my own choice. Of course, it doesn’t mean I should do nothing about it, just sometimes, in those critical situations I’m simply trying to deepen my relationship with people I’m already close to and overcome it that way. Or I simply do something that will make me feel better.
Q: Could you tell me, since you often mention that you’re not very social although you’re communicative, you defined yourself as not social, do you think that it provides you with some kind of security or that it might keep you safe from people you shouldn’t be in contact with?
A: Yes, more the latter. Actually, I try to avoid socializing with people who don’t suit me based on first impression, although that might not always be good, but I simply don’t force it and maybe I follow the line of least resistance. However, knowing some people who so much… actually most people who care so much about fitting in, I don’t know if it’s really the line of least resistance. It might be a more passive way, but on the other hand I believe it’s much easier to let the water carry you than go against the current. I think it’s easier, regardless of passivity.
Q: In your opinion, how should any kind of conflict in a society be overcome? It could be a social, economic, could be a political conflict. What’s the best way to do it in your opinion? Could you give me an example?
A: You mean am I for some sort of punishment or…?
Q: You may answer the question the way you understand it, of course. But, overcoming a conflict… If you have one interest, and the person next to you has another, and you’re not aware that you can find common grounds. Maybe living together, cooperating, sharing a goal although your ultimate goals are different?
A: Well, yes. Reach a… try to establish a good relationship through communication and make some kind of a balance of interests, some kind of compromise maybe, if that’s possible and they agree. But if they realize it doesn’t work, that energies don’t match, that interests don’t match, that nothing matched, I don’t see why they should insist on anything.
Q: What’s your attitude towards other people’s opinion?
A: I don’t believe that that attitude ‘I don’t care what other people think’ is very honest, coz we can never not care about what everybody thinks. I mean you can not care about what someone who’s not important to you thinks, but we all have people whose opinion is very important to us of course. It’s the same with me and I care about the image I project, but yes, I believe that attitude is not honest and I believe people who say that maybe just repeat it as some kind of mantra without thinking about how much they actually care about other people’s opinion. Of course we all care.
Q: OK. Connected to that we come to the concept of prejudges. Since it seems all people have that option of already knowing what other people want and like and how it all goes, could you tell me what do you think about prejudges and how they are formed?
A: Out of ignorance and the need to have an opinion on everything without actually knowing the matter. By matter I mean a person or a group, but I believe it comes from ignorance and maybe in a worse case out of lack of need to change anything, to get deeper into things and study something and educate yourself and form an opinion based on that which mostly won’t be so superficial. I think that might be the way to overcome prejudges.
Q: And what’s the easiest way to spread good energy on people around you?
A: That’s a difficult question. We can’t all do that, especially coz some people lose that life energy as a matter of circumstances and they have a personal problem and the positive energy disappears of course. But, on the other hand, maybe a person who naturally has endless positive energy can influence others. Obtained naturally or through a satisfying life. Of course they can influence others. That’s why it’s important to surround ourselves by positive people, although not at any cost. Not by force, of course, by fake empty optimism. No, I don’t mean that.
Q: You mentioned people who unfortunately slowly lose their energy, they’re actually isolating themselves in a way. What do you think they gain by that sort of isolation? Good or bad in your opinion?
A: It may seem god in the beginning, they avoid the others forming an impression about them, knowing what’s really going on with them, they retreat, but that retreat later leads to loneliness, so such persons need help from a family member or some kind of support or, if it grows into a more serious problem, even psychological or psychiatrically help, why not? There’s a solution to any problem.
Q: Do you think you learn more through words or through examples?
A: Both. However, theory is nothing without practice, and on the other hand theory is important because it introduces us into the practice in a way. So I think both are important. I don’t know what guides me more, but I believe I’ve matured a lot since I started going to high school through the conversations we have, regardless of my upbringing which I am content with. I gained some maturity. I don’t know, maybe it comes with years, but I attribute it to school and education.
Q: Could you tell me what is identity in your opinion? What is actually the identity of some person?
A: The identity of a person is actually something you gain in time. The base of it is, of course, given to us at birth. But the problem occurs when we start being a part of society. We’re all different, that’s a fact. But it seems to me, and I find it sad, that many of us are trying to discard our own personality just to fit in with the masses, in their way of thinking and their behavior. Starting with most banal things, like the taste in music… Actually, that’s not the most banal thing, not at all. I made a mistake. The way they dress, that’s not it either, but starting with most banal things to everything else. It’s all connected, I can’t exclude anything. Little things are also what makes us who we are.
Q: How did you build your identity?
A: Through freedom. Freedom of thinking, freedom of movement, of behaving. I think that’s it. But I was aware I have to learn. I’m not talking about formal education. I mean it of course in every sense of the word and for as long as I live. I learned that and I’ll try to stick with it for the rest of my life, I’ll try not to lose this life force.
Q: You mention people who fit in better, who belong to a majority so they would have better chances. What kind of security do you think they find in that? That’s one of the questions. And the other one is how could we maybe help them build their own identity?
A: Ah, those are serious questions. Do they find security in it? Seemingly. They think they do. But actually it’s just the easier road, it appears to me, and they’re not really getting anything from it unless they’re Alfas in that group of mediocrities. I think they’re more likely to become a victim of that group than anyone who’s outside of it, who has their own defense mechanism and their own opinions and their own personality, of course not too limited coz that leads to nothing. I believe that at some point they would even have it worse than the ones who’re on the outside. If they don’t stick out.
Q: I will change the topic a bit, since it’s all connected to this part. Since you live here in Temerin, you’ve spent your whole life here, do you think there’s enough young people here?
A: You mean the number?
Q: Well, I mean the number, but also the satisfaction of young people and the desire to stay and live here. Fulfillment. On a cultural, musical, social, any kind of level.
A: In terms of numbers I think there’s a lot of young people, as far as I’ve noticed, but that kind of personal satisfaction, I think it’s at a low level. And I fully understand any young person who wants to make their life better, give it more quality, even if they have to leave the country to do so. I fully understand. I don’t believe that’s good for this country, but people who could’ve made decisions about what’s good for this country chose badly, so why blame a young person for wanting to improve their life… And again, if they choose to stay here, I don’t know to what extent they could find satisfaction in the things they do, how much they would be rewarded for what they do, how happy they would be. I don’t know, I haven’t yet reached clarity in thinking about it. Of course it’s a part of our everyday life, but I haven’t thought about what I would do about it. Although if I wouldn’t get a chance here, if I could get no satisfaction, I wouldn’t limit myself.
Q: What could bother you the most?
A: What do you mean?
Q: I mean to make you want to leave Temerin and maybe to…
A: Yes, actually, what would bother me… what already bothers me is when I see how an average person lives here. An average educated or uneducated person. But examining the situation I simply don’t know how much I could distinguish myself, how much I could get rewarded for it, because it’s very important when we chose a way of life that we can live off of it, so we’ll see, I don’t know, but I understand. I can’t say I support it, but I fully understand and I would never blame someone who wants to make their life better.
Q: How could that be changed in your opinion?
A: That’s very difficult. It’s something that was built over time, and though I said I’m an optimist, sometimes I’m really overwhelmed by pessimism in some cases, in some situation when I simply don’t see the way out, at least not on an individual level. It’s something that’s done on a systemic level and something that requires persistence and something that requires decisiveness, no mistakes allowed, no compromise of any kind. I think that’s very difficult and that an average person in Serbia has no say in it, which is sad considering we supposedly can pick our own government, but in reality we can’t.
Q: Did you ever witness one of those problematic situations, caused by that kind of bad management or…?
A: You mean existentially?
Q: Socially. I don’t want to impose a specific question. In any sense where young people were facing some kind of a problem that was imposed on them because something wasn’t done right. Could be at school, or socially, or among friends. I’m aware the question is wide, but…
A: Yes. Very inconvenient. I don’t know which topic to address, which problem. As far as youth and their conflicts are concerned, I don’t know what I could add except that a lot of things are imposed on us by the media, by some kind of quasi authorities and that there’s always, always, always lack of critical thought. Of conspiracy theories not so much, but of critical thought. Yes, and that might be connected to upbringing, maybe it comes from home that impulse that you should process every information a bit in your head first, connect the things you’ve heard so far, and not just take things for granted. I don’t know, but I think that’s the problem with youth, and not just the youth, I mean with everybody, and that it leads to smaller but also greater conflicts, lack of understanding, and problems in general. I think so. But then again, we can’t change that. All we can do is just think critically, although that’s not ‘just’.
Q: How could we improve critical thinking, enhance it?
A: Again through the system of education. I think it’s very important that we think critically at school, but also at home and on the street, and through informal education in extracurricular activities, especially while we’re watching TV, while we’re on the internet. It’s also very important to select what we’ll listen to and what we’ll watch there, and not just soak everything in. Learn that technique that needs to be developed gradually. You can’t do it all at once.
Q: Thank you very much for this conversation, it was very nice.
A: Thank you as well.