Shoes and Prejudice

Well educated, not as much formally as informally when it comes to hobbies, foreign languages, exploring other cultures and wast interest in popular culture in general. These are the self confessions of a snob. Never the materialistic, fashion label obsessed kind, but the more subtle, equally annoying specimen. Lurking from the dark, sitting in a semi comfortable seat of an old art cinema, reading Le Mond and Le Nouvel Observateur in public transport, having coffee and initiating discussions on existentialism, judging you for your ‘too mainstream’ way of wearing Docs and rolling eyes so hard it hurts when someone proclaims their love for Starbucks.

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Huhhh, try typing and then saying all of it in one breath, it was as exhausting on paper as much as it is in real life! And it’s just the tip of an iceberg. The persona behind the mysterious description is me, of course, but it’s not a post only about me. There are many ‘me-s’ around me: educated, somewhat intelligent young people who are often subconsciously looking down at different lifestyles and interests. At the same time, we will be the first ones to raise our hands when asked if we believe in diversity, tolerance and acceptance through breaking the mental and physical borders that our world is constructed on, but fail to lead with an example in our closest surroundings.

The unusual part of this millennial paradox is that, unlike in case of other flaws and misconceptions, I’ve noticed it in my own behavior on many occasions before even thinking of looking for it in other people first.

Living In a Bubble

I know I keep returning to this topic, no excuses, it’s because I feel this has been a problem of mine for a long time. The simplest way to function in every aspect of life would be surrounding ourselves with people who are similar to us. Similar background, habits, level of education, interests, whatever. Everything similar, not too many surprises. We are drawn to that concept, mostly led by past experiences and the usual, just go with the flow of what is already close to us attitude.

No matter how much time and effort you put into creating that firm bubble of safety, there will be a time when you’ll just have to break it and step out of it. Or life will break it for you just because it can. Luckily.

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All of this is closely connected to the overused but true ‘it is important to step out of your comfort zone’ mantra. What I’ve learned from my humble experience is that people are the most challenging, but also the most rewarding part that comes with the discomfort zone. The range of emotions, both good or bad, can’t be overpowered by any experience that doesn’t include dealing with people.

The Rule Book

I used to have rules. No, that’s a lie, I still have them, but some of them are fading away. Not strict, army type rules, but more like a list of details that served as an elimination system in meeting new people. The places people like to go out, music they listen to, movies they watch, the way they dress (shoes are the biggest deal breaker for me), how much make up a girl wears, what school did they go to, etc. Those are all either visual or superficial traits you can check by scrolling through someone’s Facebook profile for a second.

‘No way I’m hanging out with him!’ In under 10 words it’s done like it’s a no big deal, like there may not be any missed opportunities behind it. The number of times I’ve jumped to conclusion combined with the number of times someone didn’t want to have anything to do with me based on the first impression leads to….  a pretty big number I guess. But anyways, that’s not the truly sad part, what sucks is never realizing how inefficient our personal scanning machines are.

Becoming more opened towards people with different tastes and thoughts about how to live a life doesn’t mean forcing an introvert into turning into a very loud, outgoing person or abandoning your firmest beliefs and passions. The trick is letting the guard down, at first by focusing on it until it finally happens spontaneously. New experience begins with letting other people’s ideas come in and out again, like taking deep breaths while trying to relax.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? I can only think of not liking and completely disagreeing with someone’s way of thinking and it’s totally alright,  as long as it’s respectful.  I like to remember situations where I had to collaborate with different individuals which led to a pleasant surprise, making the grumpy old me admit I learned something new and useful from the horrible shoes wearing people.

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