There are people that I have known for years who still seem to think that the only thing I am interested in talking about is fashion. This appalls me as I am a bit of a geek, I enjoy having more information than necessary about random topics that can lead to enjoyable conversation. I like to consider myself a well rounded person. I’m interested in video games, sci-fi, literature, cooking, photography, music, and movies from cultures around the world. I enjoy discussing theology and biblical studies.
I find it offensive that someone can place me so firmly inside a stereotype that I cannot escape no matter what I do. I once spent an evening with a family whom I really wanted to impress. In my mind the evening was a resounding success. The father and I argued about what is the best canceled sci-fi original series (Farscape or Firefly). We also discussed his current favorite show and some comics we had both read. The mother and I talked about our love for the food network and my desire to learn to cook more ethnic foods. Both conversations were obviously enjoyed by all parties. The next day I asked my friend what his family thought of me. His father actually said that he didn’t have anything in common with me so we couldn’t talk! He told his son “All she talks about is fashion and makeup.” He had actually completely forgotten everything I had said to him because it didn’t fit into his little box he had placed me in!
I immediately decided this man was crazy and discounted his opinion of me. I would have completely forgotten the experience except that it has not been the last time I have encountered such resounding judgment on my personality based on my appearance.
Most of the time if I am aware of being harshly judged by a group of people based solely on my appearance I cut off contact. I am who I am and if someone doesn’t like it they can find a new friend. The question is, what do I do when I have no choice? I know I am being judged, misunderstood and disrespected by my peers. But what if I can’t just walk away from this relationship?
The previous scenario ended the relationship. I realized I would never be good enough in the eyes of these people so, I cut off all contact. They were successfully bringing me down. The situation I am currently in is not nearly as bad, but over two years of being considered, shallow, lazy, and selfish by the people I spend the majority of my time with has been extremely taxing on my self esteem. I know that my peers have come to care about me. I have even seen them try to get past the stereotype they have placed me in, but it is obviously still there. I fear that I will forever be “the controlling wife”. It’s just easier to fall back on the belief that all pretty girls are evil. Or that anyone who spends more than x amount of time on there appearance is selfish and uncaring.
My husband is still trying to work past stereotypes that have been fed to him by his friends and society. We worked in a chemical plant together when we were first married, and he was utterly shocked at my work ethic. “You actually get a lot done and work really hard, I didn’t expect that.” I have always chosen to be flattered by these observances, but I can’t help but be a little hurt. What about me says that I won’t work hard? I find myself arguing with my husband over who is and isn’t a good worker. My sister runs an orphanage; she was working towards a degree in Administration for a Non-profit Organization when she took an opportunity to work with the ministry of her dreams. My husband assumed that her husband did all the work because my sister is also a homemaker. His friends and family have impressed on him time and time again that all upper-middle class women are lazy stupid bitches. He would never actually say that about someone, and neither would they, but it’s an obvious opinion that greatly influences everything we do together.
For some reason the place I am at in my life right now discounts every life experience I have had before. I cannot count how many times I have talked about my time living in LA or when I was a missionary in Africa, but for some reason my in-laws are regularly shocked that I have done these things. If it doesn’t fit into a neat little box it just didn’t happen, and if you do actually remember, it was just so long ago that it no longer counts.
Here a re few of my life experiences, just in case you forgot:
I was homeschooled 3rd-12th grade
Yes, I had a group, we met on Fridays.
Yes, I went to Prom.
Yes, we had Drama department which I was deeply involved in.
Bible studies were required credits. My mother was trying to get ordained at this time so I actually went through a lot of her theological studies with her. I actually know my theology pretty well.
I lived in L.A. right after high school.
It was only 5 months.
Several of those were spent couch surfing and living out of my car.
My car also broke down.
I have been homeless.
I was a Missionary in Mozambique, Africa.
It was 7 months.
I spent 4 of them without running water.
I was The Director of Hospitality, The Assistant to the Financial Director, and a Full time Nanny.
I wrote financial reports and corresponded with the Director of an international ministry, who personally told me they greatly appreciated my work.
I have not been to College, YWAM or any other Discipleship training school.
I got my “fun” college experience out of the way with having to go thousands of dollars into debt.
As soon as I know what I want to major in I will pursue going to college.
I have no interest in attending ANY discipleship training school unless God says I have to. (He’ll have to really push it.)
Loyalty in friendship is extremely important to me.
I have been there for a friend when he came out to his parent and lost all of his friends.
I have been there for a friend when her husband left her. ( I also never managed to say “good riddance” because I knew she wanted him to come back, he did.)
I have been there for a friend when she was in the process of making the worst series of decisions in her life.
These past months have been some the darkest/happiest time in my life. I have experienced loss of a child, which is a pain I still deal with almost everyday. I have also experienced the love of my son, who is constantly making me laugh, cry, or pull my hair in frustration. I have a husband who makes me feel special and loved. I have experienced draining postpartum depression with bouts of loneliness and burning self doubt. I have lost friends and gained friends. I have searched for a home and found one. Things are beginning to come back together, maybe we can make it more than a year without an upset, maybe not. I’ll cherish the peace while I have it and cling to the calm when it is here. I’ll stand firm when the chaos surrounds me and cling to the stability that I have in my little family, as we grow change and mature together.
All I ask in return is a little respect. There is no need to question my parenting style. My son is healthy, happy, intelligent, and well developed. I do not hover, nor do I ignore. I respect your taste, please respect mine. I enjoy most genres of music, film, and entertainment. I do not expect you to enjoy it as I do, but please don’t be derisive or condescending. An opinion is exactly that, just because it’s the truth in your eyes, does not mean I will agree. Allow my family to have some time to ourselves, If you invite us somewhere and we choose not to attend, please don’t take it personally. My husband has been working 60+ hours a week and we have almost no time alone together. The time that we do have is mostly spent taking care of our son, and sleeping.