Stories From Chicago: How Upbringing Affets mindset

Let me tell you about two people living in Chicago.

But first some important information. Both of our characters are 24 year old white males and  both have lived in and around Chicago for all if not most of their lives. We’ll call one Sam and one Dave.

Sam grew up and still lives in a neighborhood in Evanston, Illinois (which is considered in the Chicagoland area) As a kid he had lots of activities he could play and lots of kids in his neighborhood to play with. He could walk to his school everyday and to a movie theater just down the street. Evanstons retail areas are neatly set out in market streets and outdoor malls with stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Target, REI, North Face, and other brands that are considered “high class”.

A rooftop view from Evanston’s Fountain Square

Sam himself grew up going on lots of vacations around the world with his family, graduated and went to Northwestern University, which happens to be in walking distance from his childhood home and now has a job and an apartment near downtown Chicago. Sam gets paid well and doesn’t have to work most Fridays, he gets lots of time to spend with his family, pursue his hobbies, and get exercise. His work even has a gym in it. Sam likes to think of himself as informed on political matters, he watches debates to truly understand candidates and takes the time to do research on their policies and history. In fact, the nature of his job allows him to be well informed on local politics and he enjoys talking about it to his friends.

Dave also grew up in Evanston but his dad lost his job when he was in 5th grade and they had to move to West Englewood on the southside where his grandparents had grown up and still live.  Besides a few small businesses, local restaurants and a convenience store, there isn’t anything close to Dave’s house. Dave’s parents got divorced and his mom moved away. Dave’s dad eventually got a new job working as a consultant for the Chicago White Sox’s, who play a few miles north of his house. He planned to go to college but had to put that on hold after his grandfather got sick and Dave needed to take care of him. After a few years, Dave’s grandpa passed away and Dave inherited his house. He also used some of his inheritance to go on a trip to England, his first time out of the country.

Abandoned Houses on Damen Ave. Despite what politicians say, Englewood never truly recovered from the 2008 housing crisis.

Nowadays, Dave works two jobs, one at a local convenience store and another at a Liquor store near his house. Most days he gets up early and goes to bed late, he doesn’t have a lot of time to exercise but gets out when he can, he gets most of his groceries in the convenience store he works at just like many of his neighbors do. He gets stressed out easily and has a hard time getting out of his comfort zone. Dave often describes himself as too busy to get into politics and focuses on other things when he gets off of work, particularly Whites Sox Baseball and spending time with his girlfriend. 

In reality, I know both of these people but they are not named Dave and Sam. While they seem very different they have been friends since they went to elementary school together and have kept in touch over the years.

We sometimes sit together in voice calls while we play games and just talk about stuff happening in our lives and it can sometimes be difficult to understand that some people have different priorities and different lives. Sam often spends his weekends doing charity work and Dave takes the weekends as a time to rest and recharge. Despite not really living too far away, Dave and Sam rarely have the time to hangout in person for some reason or another.  

As two people who have similar childhoods but grew up differently later on, Dave and Sam have this interesting relationship where they have similarities but also a lot of differences. During the 2020 election, Sam got into a lot of arguments with Dave because he felt that Dave didn’t care or understand how important the election was. Sam would constantly try to talk to Dave about it, even lecture him at times. To the point that it started putting a strain on their friendship.

One Sunday, Dave invited Sam to eat lunch with him near Comiskey park and see a game afterwards. Dave had a long talk with Sam during that lunch and told him that while he appreciated Sam’s enthusiasm about activism and politics, he personally didn’t have any interest and was so busy with other aspects of his life that he didn’t want to have more on his plate than he could chew.  

We live in a world where we are supposed to be aware of everything around us and have some opinion on it. Trying to keep track of news and follow politics can feel overwhelming at times, especially if it’s all negative, all the time.  We are also supposed to prioritize ourselves and our own health first, do things you enjoy and “block out those negative waves” . I think that Sam and Dave represent these mindsets well and just like their personalities, their mindsets have been molded by their experiences. 

I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one is better but I personally believe there is a right place and time for each. 

3 thoughts on “Stories From Chicago: How Upbringing Affets mindset

  1. Wow, what a great read. There are two completely different perspectives, Sam often times reminds me a little of myself, being very up to date on world events, and having a fairly easy life, while Dave reminds me of one of my friends from home, very laid back, doesn`t care too much about the news and did not go to college. However, he is one of my best friends and is someone who I consider to be a lifelong friend which is all that really matters in the end. This blog post was written out extremely well and it was amazing to me just how relatable it was to me and my own life.


  2. This was so interesting to read! I really enjoyed how you wrote about two people and then brought it back around to relate to all, and I think it’s an accurate description of how most individuals are today. Some are die-hard about politics while others don’t really care. It’s so important to understand that not everyone shares the same priorities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a relationship with them. I have met so many people at school that I consider to be good friends- we don’t always have the same focus in life but always find ways to relate to each other and have fun.


  3. It is so interesting to see how different perspectives are formed, especially considering they share aspects of a similar upbringing. I found this piece especially interesting because there was no mention of race whatsoever, and it made me wonder what role race plays in this conversation, if any at all. Does Sam’s race have anything to do with why he is so politically active- does the activism he practices have any effect on him, or is he speaking out for others? Does Dave’s race have any effect on why he doesn’t care about politics as much- does he not feel the need to be politically active because he is not affected, or does he feel as if the system does not benefit him anyway and there are better things to pay mind to? Although not everything needs to come down to race, it got me wondering.


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