Keeping an Open Mind

Jordan - Lenexa, Kansas
Entered on December 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: prejudice

Have you ever been stereotyped by what others think you might be because of your age or how you look? Stereotypes define a lot of our society. I believe that stereotyping is wrong because I think that doing so closes our minds to new people and new things.

I was out shopping one day last year and as I walked past a display of jewelry I saw a necklace that caught my eye so I decided to stop and take a closer look at it. I began to walk around and look at all of the jewelry when I noticed an elderly employee closely following me. Every step I took, she took another towards me. Finally she walked up to me an asked me if I needed any help. I replied that I was just looking, thinking that was all she wanted. So I brushed it off and continued to browse the jewelry.

As I picked up the necklace that I had seen, a different employee rushed up to me demanding that I open my purse to let her see inside of it. My jaw dropped, I stood there frozen. Not knowing whether to ask her why, or just to open it like she asked. I stammered, “I’m sorry, why do you need to check my purse?” She replied, “I have reason to believe you stole a pair of earrings.” I opened my purse proving to her that I had in fact not stolen anything.

I was furious. There were so many other people in the same store. Why me? It was then that I noticed I was the only 17 year old in that store. I can honestly say that I have never considered, or even thought about stealing. I don’t believe that age, clothes, or any type of appearance has anything to do with a person’s character. I was a 17 year old brunette. Did that also mean that I was a shoplifter?

I believe that stereotypes are false assumptions made by those who can’t go beyond a first impression. This taught me to always keep and open mind, and to always be ready to learn new things about others because what you see is not always what you get.