A Study in Contradiction

Ever since high school I remember people telling me "I'm surprised you like *this thing or that thing*, I would never have expected that of you!" As the years pass this has become such a common occurrence that I don't bat an eye. However, as I begin to think through these phenomena I am intrigued at what is going on in others's minds behind the scenes.

As human beings we like to put other human beings into boxes. "She's a preppy girl, he's a jock, he's an athlete..." and so on and so forth. This innate desire to stereotype others is almost like a form of compartmentalization but for other people and not ourselves. Normally, we compartmentalize to avoid dealing with something. This can be helpful to allow ourselves to not think about work, focus on tasks at hand, and avoid being paralyzed by something difficult going on in our lives. Compartmentalization can also be used to rationalize conflicting information and I would argue this is what we do when we see someone that doesn't fit in with our stereotype of them. 

I'm a study in contradiction.

I'm a Christian but I'm also a scientist. I majored in Genetics but also English. I love to jam out to some hardcore dubstep but thoroughly enjoy embroidering and listening to classical music. My two favorite book genres are Fantasy and British Literature. I have a nose piercing and a shaved side of my head but love to wear dresses. I weight-lift but get so excited to have a new color on my nails. 

Throughout my 23 years of life, I have elicited many surprise reactions from people if they know only one side of the coins above and find out the other side. Honestly, I'm perplexed at why people respond this way since most everyone I know has unique characteristics to them that go beyond a stereotype. Why do we persist in labeling people if no one *truly* fits into the labels that we have affixed to them? I would argue that we are lazy and it's easier for us to stereotype someone than to try and understand their many facets. 

Knowing someone enough to learn their quirky characteristics takes a lot of intentional time and energy. It's not easy and it requires grace especially when you learn something about someone you don't like. Further, most people have a desire to be deeply known but feel shame at what others could find if they make that effort to know them. 

To be known, you must be willing to open up and share with someone else but sadly not every person is a trusty confidant. 

I have had many wonderful family and friends in my life who have made an effort to know my quirks,  support my contradictions, and show me that what I thought were contradictions were God's unique design. Once I learned to start embracing the seemingly contradictory sides of myself I was able to stop caring as much about fitting in the boxes others put me in and be content in who God made me to be. Besides that, I could empathize better with other people and realize that they too have characteristics that run far deeper than the stereotype I had of them. 


Check out the latest Steministas podcast about Alzheimers and Ultrasounds. You can follow me @geneticginger over on Twitter and Instagram

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