I am not sure at what age we begin accumulating them, or how it is exactly that our minds filter categories in such a way but we are all prone to being stereotypical.
I grew up in a small town, one that I do my best to disown, one that scarred me deeply but one that runs through my blood so strongly-I can still feel its loneliness.
There were not many different types of people at my high school. We had the popular crowd, the jocks, the rednecks, the wannabe skaters, the wannabe hippies, the angry kids, and then the normal or nerdy folk. When I say wannabe, I say that because they didn’t actually skate-they just dressed the part and the hippies were pretty much the same. But here I go-being stereotypical…that’s how easy it is! There were a few so-called “skaters” and “hippies” that genuinely fit the name by their actions, beliefs, etc.
I guess my point here is to say that it is always easy to be stereotypical even when we aren’t trying-perhaps even when we are trying to explain something or tell a story. I would like to think of myself as an open minded person who does her best to not judge-because it is part of my beliefs but also because it falls in line with the morals I wish to possess.
When I lived in Asheville, NC, stereotyping was just like telling the girl behind the counter what type of coffee you want-it happened without thinking and only if you were lucky would you actually catch yourself. Asheville is home to a whole sleuth of different kinds of people….musicians, artists, hippies, street kids, hip hoppers, hikers, families, etc. you name it and it exists somewhere in some pocket in Asheville.
At my job I would just watch the people come through the door and honestly, I almost always made a judgment call on who they were and what they did. As a salesperson that is my job, in a way, but it also began filtering out into my life and before I knew it I was categorizing everything. I am not even going to pretend that I didn’t stereotype before-but when my paycheck depends on whether I get the good customers or not-I started making assumptions.
Since I moved to Chapel Hill and have actually begun to sink into the land of UNC, my university and the flavors that exist there-one of the things that have amazed me the most borders around stereotyping.
I will do my best to explain this. UNC isn’t an easy school to get into. You can’t just be an average student and walk through the doors-unless perhaps your parents have money….but I haven’t heard much about UNC being one of those colleges where money speaks when it comes to enrollment, so that’s probably not going to work either. Okay getting off track.
What I want to say is this…when I see some “skateboarder” cruising down the path at school, or some “goth” girl scurrying by, my first inclination is to think of their stereotype before I am abruptly reminded of the fact that they are a student at UNC.
Now perhaps this sounds silly to you but I absolutely love it-and I love it because I am damn wrong to do that. I have become so used to putting people in categories and saying that they are “this way” or “that way” because of the way they dress or how they carry themselves because quite honestly, in Asheville a lot of those stereotypes rang true and also, because my job has really begun shaping the way I look at the general public.
I love catching myself being dead wrong about something that also involves character. I sit in class with kids who are incredible to me-everyday and they aren’t always your stereotypical good student incarnate. I like that. I love that my school, while it doesn’t have much diversity in that area-it does have some.
UNC is compromised of a lot of short shorts, UNC gear, rain boots, athletic gear, etc. but it does have a percentage of kids that have their own unique style, who are different from the rest and I love that. I love seeing them working hard, I love reading their work and seeing that they are brilliant-because we should not stereotype.
I believe it is human to want to categorize, but we should not stereotype and what an awesome place to be relearning that lesson than on the UNC campus.
Because what we learn in life now, will carry on into our future life. Do you stereotype? Do you ever catch yourself doing it? Why do you think that is? And where does it comes from?
And btw……Go heels!