Stereotypes can sometimes be funny because sometimes they can be really true. But other times they can be really annoying.
When I was in middle school, I was friends with different people that I don't even talk to any more. And a lot of my friends now said they used to think of me as one of those preppy-cheerleader types because I had blond hair and I always wore it up in a bun or a high ponytail, and I smiled a lot.
First of all, to dispel some potential myths, I am not a cheerleader; I was a gymnast for 10 years. And my hair is always up because it bothers me. And also, people never think I would be a swimmer because I'm 5'3, not gargantuan.
People also never think my sister is a hockey player, or that I used to be. Just because we're small and blond (and girls) doesn't mean we can't play hockey.
I'd say the most trite stereotype is about teenagers. Once kids hit "that age", it's almost as if we are preparing for an impending apocalypse. Here's a typical dialogue.
Mom 1: It's been busy at home..
Mom 2: Oh yeah, I have two kids in preschool.
Mom 1: I have a 13 year old.
Mom 2: Oh man..
It's like teens are a new race; completely broken off from humanity. We should just make a new Linnaean name for ourselves: Homo sapiens adolescentia. There you go.
Not all teens wear excessive amounts of eye makeup, dye their hair highlighter streaks, and listen to their iPods on full-volume (the audiology field will have some jobs opening up!).
The plight of the parents of teens. Cracking the teen code. What your teen is really doing. Teens have become the subject of all testing in science. Apparently, if your a teen who listens to music a lot of the time, you are probably clinically depressed. I listen to music all day, everyday. But it's not just emo, screamo, I-hate-my-life music; it's usually Frank Sinatra-esque, or Jack Johnson, or Adele, or some sort of French music. And while I have my peaks and valleys in terms of demeanor, I am usually content in most respects. Music helps me study. I dance to music. I love it because it makes me feel amazing. I'm not clinically depressed - take that, science!
So I logged onto Facebook and I saw that one of my friends from school posted a video with her computer video camera. It was her talking, and she was talking about God. She said that she never really understood God for a while, until a few years ago when she looked to God for help in hard times. And she was saying how it has opened up her life, and how to her, God is like "that friend you can talk to at 4 in the morning" about anything. She was really passionate about it, and she was encouraging us to look to Him for guidance if we ever needed it, which knowing me, I probably will. It was a really inspirational video, and from the textbook teenager definition, that doesn't match it. Not many teens are very open about faith, and I was really impressed with how she came to this realization and how she shared it with us. And also, how all of the comments were really supportive and kind.
Not a typical teen, per se, but I say that's even better.
Breaking molds and stereotypes is the first step to acceptance of other people. That's how I became friends with so many other people; they looked past the surface and saw that I'm not the preppy cheerleader they thought I was; I'm the fun-loving nerd that likes to play ukulele and make cool sculptures. I also like to swim and read large books about human anatomy, vegetable art, and gnomes.
I challenge you to reach out to someone who you never talked to before because you had reservations about them, for any reason. Try talking to them; maybe just ask them a stupid question like "hey what time is it? I can't read the clock because my vision is poor." It could turn into a cool conversation. You might really connect with them.
Everyday you learn something about something or someone; find someone you've never met before and maybe they can teach you something.