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“He is such a …”

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Have you ever looked at a person, maybe even your own best friend, and said, “Oh, I’ll bet they…” whatever? They’re mean, or they’re a wimp, or they’re stupid. You can think you know someone, but really, are you just filling in empty spaces about their personality that you don’t know about with stereotypes. But often, you’re wrong, and you can hurt people through incorrect assumptions. You can also hurt yourself, or a friendship, if you stereotype someone.

I have a friend, who is very strong, and rarely cries. When I say “cry”, I don’t mean cry like you’re in physical pain, but cry from emotional stress and emotional pain. When her parents divorced, she’d come over to my house a lot for support. She never cried, and I never thought she’d let herself cry, based on the friend I knew. One day, when things were really bad, she did cry. I didn’t know what to do or say, because I had never expected her to cry. I hugged her to make her feel better, and I learned something that day. I learned that you can’t expect people to react a certain way based on stereotypes.

I’ve also learned that you don’t see every side of people, especially strangers. But even someone you know well can have parts of their personality that you don’t know about. An example is when I began horse-back riding at Krumkill Stables. There were two instructors there. My instructor was George. I noticed the other instructor, Barb, seemed very rough and kind of mean. I was afraid of her and I was glad she wasn’t my instructor, because she didn’t seem like the kind of person that I’d like.

Soon after I began riding, George quit his job as an instructor. Barb became my new instructor, which I wasn’t happy about at all. But as she taught me, I learned more about her; her life and her personality. I saw a different side of Barb as my instructor that I hadn’t seen as a stranger. Now, I’m glad Barb is my instructor; we’re actually pretty good friends now. I learned that Barb is a kind, funny, but rough-around-the-edges person, and I can talk to her about almost anything. From this experience I’ve learned that if I had stereotyped Barb too much, I don’t think I would have ended up being quite as good friends with her. I’m glad I didn’t judge her too much, because I would have been totally wrong about her. I also learned that you don’t see every side of everyone all the time.

Yet another example is my step-mother, Kay. The day I met Kay, she seemed like a kind, caring, loving person who was ready to welcome me into her home. I thought I loved her even more than my own mom. But, after knowing Kay for six years, I learned what a horrible, mean, hateful person she really is. I judged her completely wrong, and my judgment could have affected my life a lot. But I know the truth now, and I’m a lot more careful when I meet people now.

It can hurt when people stereotype you, especially if their opinion spreads and it affects how people interact with you. People judge me all the time. First of all, I tend to be quiet and shy. I wear t-shirts and baggy shorts instead of anything cool, like Abercrombie or American Eagle. Instead of rap or hip-hop, I mostly listen to classic country. I don’t play that many school sports
, I focus on grades instead. The sports I like are hunting, fishing, horse-back riding, and archery. People take that information, which is just a few sides of my personality, and use it to make judgments. I wouldn’t be a good friend, or I’m not cool enough, or they shouldn’t sit next to me, or I wouldn’t like to come to their party. Usually they’re wrong, and I get left out of things a lot. Judging people can really hurt them.
Also, people will judge you, based on what they see of you at first, without even getting to know you. For example, when you’re told that when you’re going somewhere different (like another school) or somewhere fancy (like a restaurant), you’re told to dress up, and represent wherever you’re from in a positive way. It’s all because people want to make a good first impression, so people won’t make bad judgments or stereotypes about them. People are afraid to be judged wrongly or negatively.

The bottom line is that stereotyping is unfair, hurtful, and can actually be cruel. You can ruin a person’s reputation by labeling them with a bad name. I have learned from past experiences where I both judged and got judged, that people don’t always react the way you’d expect them to, based on however you judged them, and that you don’t see all the different sides of someone, especially if they are a stranger. (However, you most likely don’t even know all about your friends and family.) I’ve learned how much it can hurt to be judged, and I’ve learned how often people can be wrong. I’ve learned to be careful when I met people now, and not to make assumptions too quickly.

So the next time you find yourself ready to judge someone, try to wait. Really get to know them first, get a better idea of who they are. You might save yourself from a huge mistake that you might really regret later. Remember, your judgments can affect anyone, even you. So be careful.





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