Sunday, May 1, 2011

don't read a book by its cover .

I think it's safe to say that it's easy to judge someone by the way they look before you actually know them. We all do it, and anyone who says they don't is either a saint or a liar. But why is it so easy? How did this judgmental sentiment arise? And why is it so easy and so prevalent?

I'll be the first to admit I judge people. I've learned that how you present yourself is not only a first impression, but it exudes the very person that you are. People group other people, into cliques, or into a group of pure ridiculousness. If you approach your wardrobe with a ferocity that is not present in your character, well, you might find that not many people approach you...

I tend to wear different clothing... and pretty often, (hmmm... thinking of the right word...) flamboyant? clothing? Either way, it seems to be different than the normal person, especially down south. I've seen forum boards about kids coming down from the north, asking what they should get or what they should wear in order to fit in, or be accepted in the south. I never understood that.

In the end, it shouldn't really matter what we wear. But it does. And it's not just what you wear -- it's the other stuff too. It's the vibe you give off, the way you carry yourself, piercings and tattoos, hairstyle/color. And groups, it's always groups: the preps, the punks, the rockstars, the hipsters, the jocks. It's all there, it always has been. And while they may change in college, they are still existent. Although the stereotypes change to the fratstars, the GDI's, the sorority girl, etc.

My question is: Why?

Just 'cause I wear colored skinny jeans that doesn't mean I'm gay. Just because I have tattoos doesn't mean I'm a delinquent. Just because I dyed my mohawk blue doesn't mean I'm a punk. And I know, I can tell from the looks I get from people. I can tell what they're thinking... If you take the time to just read people you can see the curiosity, you can see the confusion, you can see the disgust, you can see the judgment. You can tell when they're going to turn to their friend and laugh and whisper once you walk by.

But I don't care. I know I can come off as a douchebag sometimes. In some ways, I want to change that. In other ways, I don't want to -- that's my guard wall. And if I let that down, I'm not sure if I'll be in the place I am. Maybe it's a bit more interesting this way -- that someone might be surprised about what I'm like once they meet me. My parents, mainly my mother, was very concerned about jobs and interviews when I got inked.

Well, one thing that I want to do is change the visual connotation of people with tattoos. They are slowly getting more common. They are more safe, now more than ever, as long as you do your homework on the artist. They are beautiful art, and many times have a deep meaning to that person. I remember when I had new ones at the beginning of this year, and for the first time they were visible with a t-shirt... and I got all kinds of questions from all kinds of people, from friends to workers in the dining halls. And while sometimes it's tiring to keep answering and explaining, it was a breath of fresh air that for once people might have respected it and just been curious about the meaning, instead of writing me off as some jerk.

I've had people tell me that I looked intimidating or douchebaggy or like a jerk before they  knew me. Surprise! I'm not. I most certainly can be, and perhaps I'm a bit more rough around the edges than most. Maybe even edgy, if you will. But I'm not going to change just to impress a few people. I know when to be respectful, and when to be polite. And in those situations, I will coat on the sugar and make sure my character is where it should be. But I refuse to change my attire, I refuse to remold my attitude unless I want to, and I refuse to conform to stupid societal assumptions of how I should be.

Most people don't know me as well as they think, even people who I might be friends with. If you're reading this, you probably know me pretty decently -- and if not, if you continue to follow this, you probably soon will know me a lot better. There's a lot of things I talk about in here that is not widely known (at least I think so). But I don't mind being the mystery guy. I'll have a lot more respect for the person that approaches me and is (hopefully) pleasantly surprised. Sometimes I just need space, need to be left alone, and need to escape from the stereotypes that exist around campus.

I think I've wandered a bit from my original purpose here, and perhaps gone on a bit of rant... oops... regardless, I think that we all need to do a double or triple take, and give people a chance before we know them. The seemingly stuck up girl turned out to be amazingly easy to talk to, smart and witty, the kid with his hood always up turned out to actually have some great insights on life, and the artist covered in tattoos turned out to be one of the nicest people I know. So let's take people how they are for a minute, eh? At least give it a shot. If we don't like them after peeling back the first few layers, so be it. But it wouldn't hurt to scrape the surface for a bit.

We're all at fault of being a judgmental bastard at some point. But that doesn't mean we can't work on it.

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