Casey - Moraga, California
Entered on December 2, 2008

If someone were to label me with all applicable stereotypes, a varied list would quickly form: I’m a hick who listens to country music and works in a hardware store, a hippie who doesn’t shave or eat meat, a girly-girl who plans her paycheck spending around shopping trips, a jock who wakes up at 4:30am to ice-skate, and a nerd who works on calculus take-home tests for fun. But the truth is, I do not need to accept these labels, because I am just me.

Today’s society is quick to judge and label people, and everyday I hear questions such as: “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” “Where do you want to go to college?” “What kind of music do you listen to?” The people asking these questions think that once they’ve categorized someone by something as simple as political views or music choice, they’ve got the person all figured out. And when someone delivers a contradictory answer, such as, “Well I’m for raised taxes but I believe in unlimited gun rights,” people flip out because they lose the ability to label. For some reason, society takes comfort in pinning people down as certain types, and contradiction becomes a nuisance. I believe, however, that it is the contradictions in everyone’s personalities and beliefs that make them unique.

When I think about what I would consider to be my “belief system,” I find that I cannot pick any one belief. Not because I don’t have any, but because every belief I have is immediately contradicted by another. I regard myself as a strong, independent girl, because I try as hard as possible not to rely on my parents, I like to do things on my own, and I can never imagine being married – tied forever to another person. But I realize that I can’t argue for doing things on my own because I love the camaraderie in synchronized team ice skating, and I can’t oppose marriage because I am also a hopeless romantic. And all my other beliefs are quickly contradicted by others in a similar fashion.

But why do I need to pick one concrete belief? Why does anybody? The problem in today’s world is not only the people who choose to label others with generic stereotypes, but also the people who choose to follow suit and accept the labels.

I can imagine how ridiculous my life would be if I chose a stereotype to fit into and ran with it. Say I picked the “hick”: I would have to wear overalls, drive a truck, move onto a farm, and start eating meat. But that would be a crazy way to live – to shape my life around a predetermined archetype. Instead, I want my life to be based on the many idiosyncrasies of my personality, a function of who I am. And I truly believe that without all of the contradictions in my personality, I would not really be me.