I reject the notion of “should” and “should not.”
As a woman, I should do this. As a Catholic, I shouldn’t do that. As a mom, as a Southerner, as a thirty-year-old, etc, etc ad infinitum. I understand that these things apply to the average mom, the typical Catholic, or most people. That doesn’t mean it is me.
This got me thinking about labels. The labels we apply to ourselves, that we let other people apply to us. How they are both useful and harmful.
People jump to the stereotype when they are faced with a label. I will admit that this is also my knee-jerk reaction. However, I never let the stereotype control my opinion or my reaction beyond a first, fleeting impression. I hold back judgement (I try never to judge but I’m not perfect). I stop assuming. I give people a chance if my initial thought is negative but I also reserve my instinct to jump all-in if my reaction is positive. Because I have been hurt and I have been delightfully suprised.
I tend to defy stereotypes, so the second someone judges me based on a title I assign myself, they come off looking like the asshole. Give the stay-at-home-mom who looks like she is twelve, who is sporting pink hair and dotted with tattoos, the benefit of the doubt next time. She might be smarter than you think, kinder than you think. She might be me.
And she has zero obligation to give your judgemental ass a second chance.
This goes beyond assuming I’m an idiot because I don’t have a job. This goes to assuming all Muslims are terrorists, all Christians are bigots, all atheists have no morals. That the mentally ill are all dangerous, that the dangerous are all mentally ill. That you are a criminal based on the color of your skin. I could go on.
The systematic grouping of individuals, the sheer inability to see people as individuals because you have labeled them, is terrifying.