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Culture Is You: Unlearning What We Know

Unlearn Lab Podcast

redefine culture

Culture is in everything. It’s where you work, what you do at home, and how you interact with others. For example, thinking that lemon sherbet is better than chocolate ice cream (the other way around), came from somewhere. but did you ever stop to ask the most important question anyone can ask: why? Unlearn Lab is here to raise important questions and ignite our curiosity. 

In this episode, we explain what we’re going to do in future episodes. In Unlearn Lab, we’re here to ask and answer questions — tough, fun, and thought-provoking all rolled into one. We redefine culture, navigate the spaces where we can observe it, and examine its multilayeredness. Ultimately, we will dive deep into taboos and uncomfortable topics that need to be discussed. 

You can’t learn something new if your cup is full. If you’re looking to unlearn old information and redefine culture, then listen to this episode – it’s for you!

Listen on Spotify Here

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:

  1. How our culture affects the way we live, breathe and see the world.
  2. The importance of digging into the “Why” behind everything we do.
  3. Take the first step toward unlearning the things that may be getting in the way of authentically expressing yourself.

Resources

Episode Highlights

[00:50] Starting Up the Unlearn Lab

  • Jess asks the question, “What makes people, people?”
  • Her favorite question as a child was: “Why?” Jess’ love for this question is rooted in a deep-seated curiosity of all things.
  • Jess’ second inspiration was Karamo from Queer Eye and his ability to pinpoint the deeper aspects of people.

Jess Moy: “And so I had this ‘Aha!’ moment that maybe in order to really create change, not just social change, but true human evolution is not just about the things that we do on the outside…but really what we cultivate on the inside.”

[05:01] Culture Is Who You Are

  • Jess is an Asian-American woman living in America with Filipino and Chinese roots.
  • Culture is something you learn based on where you were born, the culture you were born into, and how you grew up.
  • Some people reject their culture and heritage for fear of being different, especially as children.
  • Your sexual and gender identity also play a part in your culture.

[08:53] Culture, Collectives, And Society

  • We absorb culture from our environment.
  • Often, culture is taken from your ancestry, but it doesn’t necessarily apply. We can cultivate it in a way that supports us.
  • Culture is not just art and song; it’s also how people interact in their daily lives, like at work.

Jess Moy: “From a human standpoint, culture really is how we develop our language and how we tolerate conflict and change and how we react and respond to it all is integrated and contributing to the culture that we really want to create for ourselves to thrive.”

[14:56] Curiosity And Asking Why

  • Society creates taboos, but who defines what’s culturally normal and what isn’t?
  • Curiosity is something that society has slowly devalued over time.
  • To unlearn what we know, we need to cultivate a curious spirit and be persistent in asking, “Why?”
  • Hearing things you don’t immediately agree with may trigger a desire to dig more deeply and have these conversations on your own.

[18:24] After Questioning, Take Action

  • After exploring these questions, what will you do about them?
  • We can redefine our culture and create new systems.

Jess: “We as a collective are made of individually beautiful humans, that get to create new systems, and get to create an entity where we allow ourselves to change, to process to be in our own thoughts, to craft new behaviors, and really live and exemplify our own beliefs that come from exactly that us and create ripples of how our culture is formed.”

  • Nothing is stopping you from iterating and changing everything about yourself.
  • Culture is messy. There’s nothing wrong with that — all learning is somewhat messy.

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Have any questions or thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to hit me up on Instagram @embodied_impact!

Thank you so much for listening! For more episode updates, visit my website.

Transcript

Welcome to Unlearn Lab with me, your host, Jess Moy. Together we are going to demystify what culture really means nowadays, and how we can show up as our whole-ass human self through the lens of wellness, entrepreneurship, and impact. Really thriving, in the long run, requires you to remember who you really are. Unplug from the matrix, and write your own damn story. We are going to cover some serious ground together, y’all.

From what culture really means, to unpacking modern-day spirituality, to peeling back the layers of multi-passionate entrepreneurship. We are gonna explore it all together, let’s unlearn some shit.

Hello, hello, hello, my beautiful humans. I am so excited to jump into this episode with y’all, where we are really going to set the stage of what Unlearn Lab is really about.

And what the fuck is culture? What does it mean? What does it mean to me, personally? What does it mean to us as a collective? Why it’s important — all the things. What really inspired this podcast? Honestly, no cap was really my obsession with what makes people people. Why are we the way we are? If my mom is listening, she’s gonna laugh at this. When I was growing up, as a kid, my favorite question was, Why? Why this? They’d give me an answer. I’d be like, “But why? But why? But why? But why?” Got me into a little bit of trouble in school, because teachers maybe haven’t time to field all the why’s, which I’ve now come to learn is really from this deep-rooted curiosity that I have of all things.

That was a very key inspiration for this podcast, Unlearn Lab. Why things are the way they are? Do they have to be this way? We’re gonna ask all the questions. But a really other important piece of this podcast, the inspiration was from none other than Karamo from Queer Eye, who I love so so much. He really changed the game for me when it came to bringing people together, that have this expertise in their own field that could change people’s lives.

Initially on Queer Eye, when I saw his expertise was culture, in my head, I was like, “What does that mean?” When you watch episodes — if you haven’t watched Queer Eye, it’s about these five amazing people that come into people’s lives and really just allow them to shine and their brightest through grooming, fashion, their home space, food, and culture.

When he was working with people, it would always be about their emotional intelligence or their relationships with people or their desires and drive in their career or their community. What I realized was what he was doing was really pinpointing the deep aspects of themselves, that contributed to how they presented to the external world — a lot of internal work. To define culture, from the Oxford languages website, it is one, the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively, and or the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.

You might be thinking, what does this have anything to do with Karamo from Queer Eye? And I say: everything! How we think, how we behave, the customs and values that we abide by, and potentially project onto others comes from something. I had this “Aha!” moment that maybe in order to really create change, not just social change, but true human evolution is not just about the things that we do on the outside that may be viewed as performative or may not last, but really what we cultivate on the inside that then affords us an ability to do more for us as a society.

So I’m gonna pull it way back to wee little Jess, a tiny little human and growing up in the suburbs of Maryland. My mom is Filipino. My dad is from Hong Kong; he’s Chinese. We really were one of the only Asian-American families in my neighborhood. The reason — let me rewind — why I’m sharing this with you is because, again, the culture that we are building is made up of the people that encapsulate it. My experience of confusion with my identity, of always feeling like I wasn’t quite enough to belong in this group but wasn’t quite enough to belong in that group, is a result of the culture that I was born into. [It] has nothing to do with how I was brought up, and very much everything to do with also the culture that my parents grew up around too.

I learned this term, probably in 2020, of what a third culture kid is, which is really someone that has cultures from different lands, and then they emigrate or are born to a country that is not their native land, and they adapt cultures from that piece. So, especially in America, where I’m from, it’s such a mixing, melting pot of people and cultures. As that country develops, we’re seeing more and more of mixed culture people, which is so, so beautiful, but as a kid growing up in it can be so, so confusing.

For me, it was challenging to understand what my culture was. I for a while really identified as an American, and almost rejected my Filipino and Chinese culture because it wasn’t the norm. It was different; it was sometimes embarrassing, right? People that are different, things that are different, people are fearful of — and let’s be honest, kids are mean. So as a kid growing up with those different kinds of backgrounds, it really was not until these past, I’d say, three, four years — I’m turning 30 this year —  that I really have just hit the tip of the iceberg of embracing what it means to hold all of these different cultures inside of me.

In addition to that, I also identify as a woman. That is another layer of culture. If you can start to see how culture is so intertwined with our identity — it’s so intertwined with who we are and how we act and how we interact with people. Which is why I really want to get to the stories of people. On Unlearn Lab, we are going to interview some really awesome humans, but it’s less about interviewing them just on their expertise and what I want to learn from them, but also what I want to learn expose you all to have them as a human. Because there’s a reason why they became the experts in the fields that they are.

I think those reasons are important to understand, especially as we move into this era that hopefully continues in this way of really being conscientious with the humans behind the brands, humans behind the business, humans behind the leadership, that are really paving the way for our culture as a society. Who are they? What do they stand for? Why do they stand for that? For me, as a woman-identifying person of color in America, a lot of my culture now plays such a potent role in what I do and why I do it. 

As of November 2021 — and this stat taken from the Census Bureau — 14.2% of the US population is immigrants. That doesn’t feel like a lot. But if you think about that’s just like immigrants, first generation. Immigrants have been coming to the United States of America for ages. Imagine the layers of culture that have come from one generation to the next generation to the next generation, and how that culture is molded and shaped as it’s passed through the lineage. To me, that also is important to understand of patterns and societal stereotypes that we want to unlearn.

Just so many different layers. Culture is like a web, right? You follow one path, and it gets you one place. But then there’s a myriad of other paths that you can take to really unravel and expose some of the deeper layers of why things are the way they are. That’s a little bit about me. I’ve really been moving through this whole cultural landscape as an individual for a very long time now.

From a human standpoint, culture really is how we develop our language and how we tolerate conflict and change and how we react and respond to it all is integrated and contributing to the culture that we really want to create for ourselves to thrive. I want to move into the collective piece of it, about what it really looks like to absorb culture from an environment standpoint.

For example, the way that society and our beliefs, the way that society shapes our beliefs and our behaviors, and how that affects the internalized culture that we carry with us and potentially passed down to us. That comes with such an awareness, right? When talking about lineage and ancestry, the things that are passed down to us come from the culture that our ancestors were in, but that culture does not necessarily apply to us. I think, also a beautiful part about culture, and one of the reasons I’m so intrigued by it is we get to really cultivate it in a way that supports us, supports our growth, supports our nervous system, supports our future generations. We get to take what allows us to thrive and be better and maybe leave the pieces of it that are dated and deserve to be put to rest with the acknowledgement that they served its purpose. Now, it’s time to exact a new way of being. 

I also want to explore culture from this place of exactly what the name of this podcast is — Unlearn Lab, and unlearning, unlearning things that were passed down to us. That involves workplace culture, relationship culture, educational culture. Literally every subsect of where humans interact builds culture. In Unlearn Lab, it’s exactly also a lab; it’s testing it out. It’s trying it out. We’ll invite you to explore your own curiosity of seeing how what we talk about lands. Maybe testing some of it out in your own life, and deciding, “Yo, this isn’t for me.” or being like, “Wow, I never thought of it this way.” and move into a new version of existing in the culture that surrounds you.

I want to talk about, for example, workplace culture. Where was it built? What was it built from? I read this amazing book by Celeste Headlee called “Do Nothing”. If the picture of the sloth on the front didn’t get me, it was the whole ‘do nothing’ aspect that really drew me in. She really breaks down where our desire and need for working and defining our identity by work and defining this model of hour-per-time and what it served before and why maybe it doesn’t serve now. Those are all questions that I think we get to ask. We, as a human species, are one of the only species that have decision making capabilities and this elevated level of thinking. I don’t know the neurological term for it, but we’re a very smart population.

Wanting to use that and explore that to unpack and uncover again — what is working? What is not working? What has been predefined and built into the culture that we have entered? And how do we get to rewrite the script about it? 

I also want to say, too that this brings us to the idea of “taboos.” We’re going to talk about some things that are not a normal dinner time conversation topic, but I want to talk about them. We are going to bring on in a future episode, a pelvic floor physical therapist and womb space expert. We’re going to talk about periods, for example. There was a statistic that I read the other day, that was something along the lines of, I believe 51% of men feel that it is inappropriate for women to talk openly about menstruation in the workplace. I’m gonna pause with y’all for that for a moment.

That is a cultural norm that was built into our culture of today, and not a cultural norm of past ancestry, and even other nations. Periods used to be celebrated and revered. That time was a time of reverence. Where did that change? Why did it change? I want to really also ask the question of, where did normal develop? Do we like what is “normal”? Do we want to change that shit? Like, these are questions I want to ask. It’s not just asking myself; they’re also rhetorical. But I’m also going to ask some people that come into this podcast, because I think the strongest parts of learning and growing are the ability to sit in the seat of the student, and always be learning and absorbing, and taking it in and making it your own.

All in all, why does this matter to you? Why would you spend 15 to an hour — maybe sometimes 90 minutes if we really get going — minutes, every other week with me, talking about things that are directly and indirectly related to culture, but also may not be directly related to you. Truly, I want to bring an invitation to curiosity. I think curiosity has been something that has lost its value over time.

I think in an era where in schools, we’re cutting out music, and arts and movement. These are all things that develop that piece of the brain that invites out of the box thinking, out of standardization, out of the things that make it maybe easier to quantify, but kind of dilute our ability to truly be human. We’re going to spark some things. Maybe some things you hear on here you don’t agree with, maybe they trigger something that warrants some deeper exploration. That’s exactly what this is meant to. I want you to explore these conversations on your own. I want you to explore what I give to you, in your own space — how it lands, how it affects you, and maybe what you want to do about them. 

If you learn that maybe you want to dive in more, do something about or change in your own space. I also want to make culture more human. I think, from what I defined, this idea of the social behavior of particular people or society — this is made of humans. We as a collective are made of individually beautiful humans that get to create new systems and get to create an entity where we allow ourselves to change, to process, to be in our own thoughts, to craft new behaviors, and really live and exemplify our own beliefs that come from exactly that, us and create ripples of how our culture is formed. With the complete and utter grace, and messy process that is iterating and changing with full, unwarranted permission. We change our beliefs. We’re allowed to change them, if not regularly, daily. That is also a beautiful piece of a lot of the things that we’re going to touch on in impact, wellness, entrepreneurship. We get to change with the tides of the environment that we’re in, but also get to affect that change of the tides in the waters that we occupy. So, this whole thing, it gets to be messy.

If you think of a science experiment — think back to when you were a kid and you had to, I can only speak from my childhood, but make the exploding volcano or the terrarium with your fish and rollie-pollie-ollies. Do not tell me that that process that you went through as a child was one, not messy, or two, not helped out by your parents or like a friend or something. It’s messy.

For me being a third culture kid is messy. Being a woman in entrepreneurship is messy. Creating a path for generational health and wealth is messy. But it’s important to ask ourselves these questions of, “Do I like the culture that I’m in? Do I like the culture that I’m contributing to, in my family or in my business? Or am I just replicating the same cultures that I’m familiar with?” Also, not a bad thing. Safety and belonging is a primal human motivator. It’s the awareness of where we’re moving from that gets to change and gets to move the needle.

But it also gets to be fun, y’all. We’re gonna talk about some cool things. We’re gonna talk about some taboo stuff. We’re gonna get real sexy. We’re gonna get real spicy, and get to ask questions that are weird, because also as humans and culture, there is no one out there that doesn’t have a maybe inkling of a weird bone, yeah? We don’t always have to ask those deeper existential human questions that yes, I personally do go down a rabbit hole with, sometimes.

But we get to ask questions that are also just like part of us as humans, but the lighthearted pieces — the ones of levity, like, as a pet owner, what’s pet owner culture? Why do we love our dog so much? Why do we think we’re gonna love our dog more than we’re going to love our future born child? These are all questions — like fellow dog lovers, you know what I’m talking about — that we get to have in addition to some of the harder questions, and we get to have it all here because being human is a duality. It is not a binary construct as we are so exploring now. Thank God, in our day and age, nothing exists in polarity like some of us like to think it does.

I want to leave you with this. An invitation to get curious. Be exploratory. Be an adventurer in your own life and live in this duality of hopefully wanting to make serious impact in our society as a collective. But also have fun and experience pleasure in learning and maybe learning for the sake of learning and there is something to be said about too much of a good thing. I’ve definitely found that in myself in the self development route like, “Put a finger down if you’d be reading way too many Brene Brown Books.” and you’re like, “I can’t implement all the things!” Here’s something that really helped me: You don’t have to! Sometimes just learning and absorbing and being in an exploratory place has merit too. I hope that you’ll be joining us in a future episode. I can’t wait to have more conversations, and connect with y’all on a more intimate level. I’m here for the long haul. So let’s go and unlearn some shit. See y’all soon!

noodle OBSESSED, sloth in human form, modern mystic, culture explorer. 

Hi, I'm Jess.
Host of Unlearn Lab & Culture Curator.

I always knew there had to be more than business strategy, leadership skills, and the wellness practices we embody and share. It's the humans inside these paradigms that get to say and shift what is the "norm" and where we really want to go. So come along with me and Embodied Impact as we build culture together. 

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We help intersectional leaders unmute their message and cultivate cultures where humans thrive through mentorship and intuitive strategy. Your legacy is your sovereignty.