When people look at me, what can they instantaneously determine?
I am a girl. I have blue eyes, brown hair. I’m thin and tall.
They might be able to make assumptions about my personality based on my body language, facial expressions, and their perspective of my initial appearance… but again, these are just assumptions. Not facts.
So let’s add some facts.
I am outgoing and friendly.
This may open them up to the idea of getting to know me, possibly becoming my friend. They may crack a joke to break the ice or inquire about my interests and hobbies.
I am a soon to be college graduate.
This might give them the impression that I am smart, goal oriented, or determined. It gives them the chance to assume I have goals and dreams that I would like to accomplish.
I am madly in love, and I’ve found my person.
The first response to this is a plethora of ooo’s and ahh’s with a smile and a wink. Then questions like so who’s the lucky guy? What does he look like?, etc pour in. They assume (most likely based on the assumptions they’ve made about me and my personality supported by only my appearance and the above facts) that I am with some handsome, sweet man who might one day be my husband. We will have a beautiful family and live happily ever after.
Well, pause. Because if that’s the assumption you’ve come to, you’re completely wrong.
We as humans are inherently designed to judge and make assumptions. We may not want to and we may be open minded people who try everything not to pass judgement or assume, however it happens in nature regardless. Most people categorize others in their mind based on their appearance. If they look the part, they fit sort of thing. If you’re pretty and could pass as a supermodel you’re either ditzy and helpless, bitchy and stuck up, or forever growing your number. If you’re smart and interested in anything other than the trends on social media you’re either a total weirdo who has no friends, or the biggest nerd in your neighborhood. If you have short hair and would rather naht wear dresses and heels, or you prefer to dress sporty… you’re a lesbian… 4surrrre. No way that’s just your style or you are, you know… actually sporty.
These stereotypes, these pre-judged assumptions close off that chance of communication. Are you as interested in talking to the person anymore based on what you think you know? Do your beliefs and practices differ enough to make you not interested in getting to know the person? If you look at someone and, based on their appearance, assume they are probably just weird and uncomfortable to be around, are you still going to approach them? Doubtful.
So let’s look the flip side. Let’s give the facts, the full facts, straight up.
I am outgoing and friendly. I love meeting new people and learning from them.
I am a soon to be college graduate. I then plan to begin my masters program followed by my doctorate program soon after. I hope to one day be able to travel internationally and give back through my own non-profit foundation.
I am madly in love, and I have found my person. She is the most beautiful girl that I have ever met, inside and and out, and she makes me the happiest I have ever been. She accepts me for me and loves me for who I am and what I aspire to be.
Up until that last detailed fact, most people would feel no differently than they would have had they just made their own assumptions. After that however, for many people, an uneasy or uncomfortable feeling may have set in. In my experiences, the comments begin to flow in as follows:
Oh.. So you’re a lesbian? Are you sure?
Is this a phase?
Oh that’s too bad.
You’re too pretty to be a lesbian.
What a waste.
….or there is a just a weird moment of uncomfortable staring, followed by an awkward separation, leading to quiet murmurs later on.
With or without facts, we are always being judged. Whether it’s due to a lack of understanding, or deep rooted preconcieved ideas, we are judged and we judge.
But wait. Can you tell me that I’m not as happy or im not as intelligent because of my choice? Can you tell me that I have less love for that human I am so madly head over heels for than another woman has for a man? Can you tell if what we have is any less real than any other relationship you see?
You can’t. We can’t.
We only know what we see and what we are taught. It is up to us to open our hearts to learning what we don’t know instead of making assumptions. It is up to us to give everyone that fair and equal chance. So the next time you feel uncomfortable when meeting someone ask yourself why? Is it because you don’t fully understand what it is they do or believe? Is it because you have different beliefs than they do? If so, that’s okay you’re entitled to your own perspective, but are you open to learning about and respecting theirs? Humans are beautiful complex creatures who open up a world of opportunities to learn and explore just from our own knowledge and experiences. We all come from different backgrounds, different upbringings. We all have different beliefs, different practices. We all have unique characteristics and features that make us our individual selves. All equally worth taking the time to get to know and understand.
Because based on a persons appearance, your assumptions, or their facts… Do you really know who they are as a person? Do you really know what they could teach you and you could teach them?
Can you really tell?