I recently had to travel out of town for work. I went to Houston. Now I’ve never been to Texas before, and I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but this just wasn’t it! I had an image in my brain about Texas. (Mostly based on movies I’d seen involving Texas)
1. Cowboy hats and boots
3. Dry dirt, tumbleweeds, perhaps cactus… this one I knew was pretty outrageous, but that’s what I pictured!
5. Accents!!! Where’s the “ya’ll” and “fixin to”?!
6. I shouted in the airport “The stars at night are big and bright…” and no one answered “Deep in the heart of Texas” like in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. (Ok, so maybe this one wasn’t my actual idea of what Texas is like.)
So needless to say my visit to Houston was a little disappointing when I learned that not everyone has a hat and boots, there are SO MANY TREES and so much green grass. I saw no cactus either. But there were palm trees, which surprised me. None of the employees in the Houston office were ranchers or rode a horse, at least not to work. Very few people had a southern drawl, and in this I was very disappointed because I love how accents sound!
Now to a point I’m being facetious, and I’m aware that there are many stereotypes about Iowa as well, but my idea of Texas was clearly all wrong! Like that commercial for pasta sauce I got to thinking “What else have I got wrong about the world?!” Clearly my stereotypes were holding me back. I can’t describe my surprise at what I found in Texas. It was immense.
So many stereotypes exist in this world and they are forged from different sources. My stereotypes for Texas were based on mostly TV and movie examples. But how many times do we base our opinion on a person based on their clothing, haircut, what things they carry (purse, backpack, briefcase, etc), their car or lack there of, or other outward aspect that we use to define them?! I know I’m guilty of it. How much different would the world be if we accepted more people and didn’t judge and walk away?
I’m a firm believer in wearing and doing what makes you happy and not worrying about what others think about you based on those choices. And I live by that motto. I’m sure there are people who see me and LITERALLY RUN AWAY because not every clothing choice I make looks “normal”. There are plenty of clothes I own which my friends say “Only YOU would own a dress like that”… I’m not always sure how I should take that one because I’m not sure if they mean I look great but they don’t have the guts to were anything so bold or because I look borderline crazy in it… But needles to say, I look unique most of the time. (Plus I have CRAAAAZY curly hair that I sometimes “let free” and it’s quite big.)
None of this makes me less of a good person. None of this makes me less kind. None of my outward appearance makes me any less of a good employee or friend. I’m still brilliant and funny and (I think) pretty damn amazing. Nothing anyone could say about me would stop me from expressing myself. That’s not to say it couldn’t hurt my feelings, but I’m pretty confident about my outward weird.
So the next time you encounter someone, don’t judge them by their outward appearance, but talk to them. Get to know them. Learn about them. And accept them. See what happens and how it changes your life.