Self Reliance and the Number 8 Wire Mentality
Here in New Zealand we have a saying “Number 8 Wire Mentality”, which is a mindset that flowed on from our ancestors, who came here in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Number 8 gauge wire is a wire that had a multitude of uses, mostly fencing. As NZ was isolated, and imports from the Motherland were few and far between, we made do with what we had. Rural farming meant trips to town were time consuming, so we were innovative.
We had to be self reliant.
As this mentality seeped through the generations, we prided ourselves on our self reliance. Travel was always so far to anywhere, that we made do with what we had.
This got me thinking about the types of people who came here, it was mostly my great great grandparent’s generation. It wouldn’t have been the first sons who came here, as they would have inherited the land from their fathers. So it would have been the second sons onwards, or the black sheep.
In essence they may have been adventurous and wanting to start over, but they cut themselves off from any established support and community help.
There was also propaganda used in those days, advertising NZ as an established tropical island, but that was far from the case. So the people who did well here financially, were actually the working class, because they had to get stuck in and build the houses and work the land.
They may have built a community here, but, everyone was in the same boat of having to become established and put down roots. Perhaps they helped each other out with survival needs, but I suspect not so much their emotional needs.
The Number 8 wire mentality may have worked for my ancestors, but I’m sure it’s not working for us now.
I Did It All By Myself
I was raised to pride myself on doing something alone. It was a sign of mastering a task, of not pestering my parents for help, and a sign of strength. It was seen as a weakness or a bother to ask anyone for help. It really was the legacy handed down by those brave people who ventured here, because once they got here, chances are they weren’t going back.
NZ has one of the highest rates of Depression and Alcoholism in the world. I think Depression stems from having to be strong for too long, and our Number 8 mentality has contributed to that.
Asking For Help
It’s so hard going it alone, not asking for help, not doing it together, there’s a synergy when you work as a team. It’s so relieving know you can rely on someone.
That underlying belief that you have to be self reliant in order to survive, may be at the core of a lot of issues as to why we can’t ask others for help. We say we are fine, when we aren’t. We just box on.
We have a more current saying, “She’ll be right, mate.” Meaning, It Will Be OK. And when it’s not.
Did your ancestors settle in a new land, or are you far from your family’s roots?
Are you carrying on the mentality of only relying on yourself and not asking for help?