Don't Label Me Based On Your Assumptions

Don't Label Me Based On Your Assumptions

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
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We've all heard the assumptions, and we are all guilty of making assumptions at least once in our life. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” - Wendy Mass. It is true. You only know what individual is showing to the world; they have a whole portion of their life that nobody knows anything about. Assumptions are based off what is being shown or how the individual is acting, but, they are not true (most of the time). Next time you want to make an assumption, think of what that person may be going through, think of who they truly are as a person, and if you gave the chance to get to know them, maybe you'd understand just a little more.

Assumption: They're such a b***h.

Truth: They're straightforward.

The person that is always straightforward, is most likely seen as a b***h. I've been there, plenty of times. They do not hide the truth or beat around the bushes, they tell it how it is. They're blunt and honest, and sometimes what they say hurts, but they wouldn't lie to you. I'm here to tell you, they may seem rude and hurtful, but these are some of the most real people you'll ever meet. Once you get to know them, you realize how amazing they are because what you see is what you get, and they wouldn't hide a single thing from you.

Assumption: They're so lame, they never want to go out.

Truth: They're exhausted from school and work, they wants to relax.

Being a full-time student in any major is exhausting, especially if they work a job on top of being a student. Being a student does not just involve going to class; it involves studying and homework and projects and essays and so much more. If a student is involved with organizations on campus, it is essentially comparable to taking another course; having to plan events and fundraisers and merchandise and the whole nine yards. Working just takes time out of studies, but it's necessary to pay tuition and bills. Personally, the last thing I want to do after coming home from a whole school and work day is getting all dolled up to go out; give me a glass of wine, some Netflix, and my bed and I am set for the night.

Assumption: They're so intimidating.

Truth: They're strong and powerful.

Strong is intimidating, plain and simple. When someone knows their worth and what they bring to the table, they aren't afraid, and others find it intimidating. It ties back in with being straightforward; somebody who knows what they want and isn't afraid to say it is terrifying in today's' world. People for some odd reason do not do well with bluntness and power; they're seen as cocky or arrogant sometimes, which, they could be. But having someone say they are intimidated by you simply means you know your worth and are not afraid to show it to the world.

Assumption: They're so stand-offish and unapproachable.

Truth: They're protecting themselves.

Anyone who has gone through some bad times in their life knows how hard it is to open up again. The person that seems unapproachable is protecting themselves from harm and pain. They're nervous. They've gone through so many bad times that good times seem almost unreal. They're scared of getting close to anyone because anyone they got close to left them. Give them time and be a friend, I promise they will open up to you once they get to know you.

Assumption: They're so weird.

Truth: Their passions do not align with yours.

"Weird" should not even be a word to describe another human being. Their passions do not align with yours. Maybe someone prefers playing video games and old-fashioned Nintendo in their free time but you prefer playing football or listening to music. Maybe they dyed their hair a different color and yours is natural. Maybe their fashion sense is different than yours. It is not weird. Everyone has their own passions, interests, and hobbies that vary from another person. It's what makes us human and it is what makes us unique.

Assumption: They've changed, they haven't been acting like themselves.

Truth: They're going through a hard time.

Hard times change a person. Maybe it's a death in the family or a financial battle. Everyone is fighting a battle, not everyone shares that battle with the public. If someone is not acting like themselves, do not make a scene about it or say they've changed. Think that maybe they're going through a hard time and just need a friend to hang out with to take their mind off things. Think how you act when you go through a hard time; you aren't the same person you were when everything in life seemed great. Things happen, but give it time and they will return back to themselves, until then, just be a friend to them.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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The Case For Optimism

No matter how bad things get, believe they could get better.

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The last two years have sucked. The time stretching from November of 2016 up to now has been a constant cavalcade of depressing headlines, crushing disappointments, and a lingering miasma of disgust for various reasons that I really don't want to get into right now. It's frankly no surprise that in this era of bleakness, people aren't exactly feeling too hopeful about the future, immediate or otherwise.

What really brought this gloomy mood home for me was watching an episode of Real Time with Bill Maherthe other night and a conversation I saw take place there. The conversation in question was Bill's first guest for the evening, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Their conversation started off talking about the recent distressing news about the Supreme Court and more broadly how it matches up with history. They quickly fell into an interesting dichotomy as there discussion ranged over the current president and his past predecessors but the most interesting thing that stood out to me was roles they seemed to adopt, Bill the world-weary pessimist and Doris the weathered but resolute optimist.

What struck me most about the conversation was how familiar it all sounded; one said saying we've survived worse and we'll make it through it all ok and the other saying this is all really bad and things are looking very grim. It's a conversation I have heard some variation of dozens of times or more from peers, family, and even myself at some darker moments. It is also a conversation I have grown wear of hearing over and over again and I've decided to do something about it. I'm going to make the case for optimism once and for all.

To start with I believe its necessary to examine what it is that makes up a pessimist. At the hear of every pessimist is a disappointed optimist who has decided to hide their pain at being disappointed by refusing to believe things will get better. This phenomenon I also believe is not done consciously or at least is not admitted to as such, it very often masquerades under the guise of realism and accuses its opponents of naiveté. But there is a key difference between the two and that is realism is taking situations as they are and reacting accordingly whereas pessimism is just giving up without a fight. It is at its heart a coping mechanism that fails in its mission because it accomplishes nothing, what real point is there in carrying on if everything is hopeless.

Focusing on optimism presents the trickier challenge, as I believe it can be divided into two types. The first type is the naïve type that pessimists are so fond of accusing people of being. They characterized mostly by their near total faith that things will turn out well for them and that all is right with the world small children, the less intelligent, and the overly sheltered are usually counted among their number until thy are cured of their delusions. The second type is trickier to pin down but I will call it resolute optimism. It is an optimism that acknowledges less than ideal circumstances and their possible continuation but at its heart believes that things will get better someday, even if that day may be far in the future it will come.

In our current political moment when everything is so tense and every new headline seems to bring more bad news it would be well to remember resolute optimism as well as the empty promise of pessimism. One path leads you to the possibility of things getting better and the other only leads to you feeling a whole lot worse. It should be a very easy decision about which path to take.

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