Do whatever you want. Really. Be anything you want to be… Anything. You. Want.
Don’t conform to the image that others perceive you as having, unless you have worked hard to project that certain image, but even then the chances are high that what they perceive and what you perceive are two completely different things. That’s just how it is, no two people can truly think alike, it’s not human nature, so again, just do whatever you want.
For instance, doesn’t it seem so silly that people assume if you have blonde hair, that you must somehow not value knowledge and learning? Or if you grew up overweight, and had bad grades in gym class, that you are destined to forever hate all types of physical activity. Maybe you had a bad gym teacher, maybe you were being bullied at that time in that class, or that your life experiences hadn’t shown you the importance of being healthy yet. Whatever the reason, now you can be whomever you choose to be.
Often others can’t handle this and they don’t know what to do with themselves when they realize you have broken out of the mold they had you in. That is not your problem. Your only task is to be happy, to pursue happiness and be happy with yourself. Simple right?
Lesson’s from my Hair Dresser
A few months ago, I was sitting in my hair dresser’s chair and he told me that he had been doing some construction on his home. My hair dresser is a very sweet man that works magic on thick, coarse hair like mine. He spends all day long talking cut and color, perms and highlights, while going home to his wife and raising his two sons, tending to his vegetable garden, using power tools to build a new addition to his home and watching soccer with a cold beer in hand.
He told me that every single day of his life people make assumptions about him. They are always surprised to hear that he does things other than being a hair stylist and that often people assume he can’t do something because they have put him in a box and a category that they think he shouldn’t break out of. He was chuckling as he told me he loved proving people wrong, though he did all these other things because he like doing them and trusted in his own ability to do them, not to spite others.
Since then, I can’t stop thinking about his (very wise) words. Now looking closely at my own life, I realize that I too have assumptions made about me. My visual appearance looks very feminine and others are often incredulous that I could be good at lifting heavy weights or have trained in Karate for 20 years. Don’t even get me started on the actual disbelief I get when I tell them that I tore out the 2000 square feet of carpeting from my home with my bare hands, built furniture and painted all of our cabinets and hardware. Others see me dressing in feminine dresses and choosing pretty accessories to wear and they assume that I can’t be anything other than a girly girl. I often swear like a sailor, I like to read Men’s Health magazines (what, they have so much more scientific content!) but I also like to look like a lady while doing all those things. I don’t see anything wrong with placing importance on my appearance and having as many unrelated interests as possible. I enjoy doing varied things but sometimes I do let other people’s perception of me get the best of me. It really bothers me when others question my ability or intentions, and I can get into a bad mood for days thinking about something they said. What I’ve learned from my hairdresser is that it’s okay for others to have their perceptions, but it’s not okay for me to let them set my limits or to alter my goals or my mood.
The other day I was on the back extension apparatus at my new gym, and a guy came up to me and asked me if I knew what muscle I was working. I said “Yes, why? Was I doing something wrong?”
To that he replies “No, your form is better than mine, it’s just rare to see girls at the gym doing this exercise.”
I didn’t know whether to thank him or punch him in the face, so I just put my headphones back on and seethed my way through the rest of my workout. I was sad for all the girls out there that didn’t do back extensions, then I was sad for all the girls that get told working out is a manly activity. It’s a vicious cycle really. Girls think they can’t workout heavy, so they don’t learn the proper exercises and then since they don’t know how to use the machines and exercises, they never workout heavy. They are stuck on the cardio machines like little hamsters. Then from there it got even worse for my mood, I was mad that he thought his form was the epitome of greatness, and that my form had to be compared to his. I was angry that he thought he should question me on whether I knew what muscle I was working… at that point I remembered my hairdresser and figured I should channel that anger to get through my workout, because in reality what does it matter what he thinks? I can’t change his mindset with any type of response, but I can keep doing the things that I like to do and help inspire other girls to lift heavy and train hard.
The moral of the story
Like I’ve said before. You can be anything you want. You can be a manly man body builder who loves to draw, cook and shop, or you can be a well dressed girly girl who also loves to lift heavy, build things and love science. The only thing standing in your way is your mindset and education. Set goals and figure out what you need to reach them.
If you think you can, then the next step is to learn how. Educate yourself in what you need to know and get ‘er done. Start with google, go to an expert, read a book, but no matter the route you take, the trick is to start with research and go at it with clear knowledge of what you need. Thinking that you can’t do something based on stereotypes, precedence and perception is a real shame. Making that mindset switch is difficult and takes work, but it’s so freeing to the soul.
Everyday I try to take deep breaths and not let everyone else’s perceptions, ideas and comments get to me. At the end of the day it’s also my perception of what they are thinking and we all know that our perception can be skewed too. Soon I plan on learning how to play golf well, how to sew a zipper and how to make a deck chair, and after doing some preliminary google research, I plan on following through with all of them even if they scare me by seeking expert advice. Through all of this, I am also learning to let people’s perception roll down my back, learning to only seek my own happiness and not their approval.
To Living Positively Strong,