The Insanity of Assumptions

It’s human nature to try to deduce what a person is like, to place him/her in some category, to make sense of him/her in the grand scheme of your experience, your world.  But each person is a sum of nature and nurture, of genetics and experiences.

Even identical twins have different personalities and circumstances that shape their world views, so accurate assumptions can’t be made even about two people with identical DNA.  So why do we think we can make presumptions about individuals–or whole groups of people?

I have been considered stupid because I’m blond.   When I was interning with a public relations agency while in college, one of my colleagues told me that I proved myself competent, which she was surprised by, considering my appearance, particularly my blond hair.  She, a natural redhead, suggested that I dye it brown to be taken seriously.

I’ve been considered incompetent in the workplace because, as an adult, I have always looked young for my age.  I remember, in my twenties, pining for grey hair and wrinkles so I would be taken seriously.

I have been considered backward because I spent ages four to sixteen living in Louisville, Kentucky.  I had New York-based relatives laugh about my Southern accent and ask if we had indoor plumbing.

I have been considered everything negative that an American is considered abroad.  I lived outside Toronto for two years and was stunned that some Canadians actively dislike Americans.  My boyfriend at the time explained that Canadian children learn U.S. history in school, and they are angry that we Americans are so arrogant that we think we don’t need to know anything about our northern neighbor.  We don’t know who runs the country—whether president or prime minister—and we certainly don’t know that person’s name.  I also lived in London, England, for a year, and I was complimented that I “didn’t seem like an American.”  Before living outside of the United States, I had been so naïve that I had no idea that American travelers were told to put Canadian flag stickers on their backpacks to help ensure their safety.

I have been discriminated against for not having any money—literally no money in college—and for being perceived as well-to-do in my adult life.

I have been discriminated against for deciding to become a single-mother-by-choice, for using infertility treatments to get pregnant.

I’ve been judged—and praised—for being a stay-at-home mom versus a working one.

I have been anorexic and bulimic, skinny and chunky—and downright fat during my pregnancies—with all of the associated assumptions of strength and weakness and attractiveness and ugliness therein.

I’m considered a radical liberal by some Trump supporters in my life, and, to them, this is BAD, BAD, BAD.

I’m sure I have been considered certain things because I’m white, but no one has ever expressed them to me.

But I am more complicated than all of this—my blondeness (now thanks to Clairol Perfect 10), my Generation Xness, my Americanness, the city in which I spent my youth.  I am more than my race, my weight, my political leanings and my household income.

And so is everyone else.  We’re all much more complicated than this.  So let’s not make assumptions.  Let’s get to know each other.  And let’s form opinions based on each other’s integrity, character, and humanity.

It’s a start…

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