Nine piercings. Purple hair. Sides of my head shaved. Combat boots. Black jeans. Band tee. Choker necklace. Eyeliner.
At seventeen, this is what I looked like, and people associated all of this with being standoffish, cussing, drinking, smoking, sleeping around, doing drugs, and not giving a flying f-word about what other people thought. Now, sometimes that last part was true. Sometimes I didn't care what other people thought. Sometimes. But that doesn't mean I liked hearing the assumptions people made about my daily life and personality.
When I was seventeen, I met a lot of new people. A lot of new faces came in and out of my life. Some of them I remember. Others, not so much. But I got to hear what many thought of me before meeting or getting to know me first. An assumption I heard often was that I did drugs, or at least I had once. Well, not only have I never done any sort of drug, but I never will. You wouldn't believe the shock on some people's faces when I told them I've never rolled a blunt or smoked weed. Another assumption people made about me was I was a big drinker and partier. I'd get the strangest looks when I'd tell them I've never been drunk before. Plus, I'm not big for parties either. Growing up homeschooled, I was rarely ever exposed to people who drank or smoked, and I never had to come in contact with drugs or alcohol. Also, I'm not curious to know what it's like to be drunk or high.
I know what you're thinking: who could blame them? When you put off that image, what do you expect people to think? Well, I do blame them. In my truest and honest opinion, I think I do my very best to not assume (or should I type ASSume) personality traits, lifestyles, and backstories by people's appearances. And besides, I have been misconceived plenty of other times.
The one assumption someone made about me that I really took to heart was about being homeschooled. Apparently, not to my face, but to my friend's, a boy we knew had said I could not take a hint and didn't understand social cues, most likely because I was homeschooled. That one still bothers me. Although he did not know me very well at all, the comment suggested I was socially awkward and that really hit me in a vulnerable spot. If you're homeschooled, then you know what it's like when people assume you to be socially inept, without analyzing your social skills at all, but merely on the fact that you don't attend a public or private school (I'll talk more about these misconceptions about homeschoolers in a later blog). He couldn't have known that I was sensitive to that, obviously, and he might've not meant for the message to get back to me. But it did.
Another was while I was working at an outdoor pool. Keep in mind, I was sixteen and I looked nothing like I did a year later. I had plain, short, brown hair, a couple earrings, a baby face, and I sometimes still wore my glasses out. It was my first job, I knew no one, and I always brought a book to read when customers weren't at the desk. After later befriending a coworker at the end of the summer job, I found out that he, as well as a few other coworkers, assumed I was stuck up because, instead of engaging in conversation with them (that I was often not invited into and that was often about a topic I could not relate to, such as hot girls, drinking at parties, etc.) instead of that, I would quietly read my book and keep to myself. FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE EVER ASSUMED THIS OF A SHY PERSON, please stop. We're sick of it. Talk to us first before you label us stuck up or standoffish. It is an unfair assumption.
Today I have eleven piercings, three tattoos, the sides of my head are still shaved, I still wear my combat boots, and once in a while I wear a band tee. But I also wear my cowgirl hat and boots and throw on a plaid button-up. Other days I'm in a snapback, basketball shorts, Nikes, and a superhero T-shirt. I'm much more than just a punk-looking chick.
My point is this: you can't stop from assuming. It's a part of being human. No matter how hard you try, you will always judge a book by its cover. Figuratively and literally. Experiment next time you're at a bookstore. But even though you can't stop assuming, you can always stop those unfair ASSumptions from keeping you from meeting a hell of a person.