How to be private and individual when others judge me?
July 15, 2012 10:57 AM Subscribe
How can I balance my need for individuality and privacy with human tendency to stereotype and judge based on external facts?
posted by EatMyHat to Human Relations (37 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
One of the things I really struggle with is that people can judge me based on facts they know about me. So they can judge me based on who I'm dating, what car I drive and where I work. And in my experience people do exactly that. In some cases the judgement is made with good reason - not many people become accountants if they hate working with figures, for example, so it is logical to judge that an accountant will like working with figures, even though it is technically a stereotype.
But I'm a private person and I don't want others knowing about me or judging me like that. I like to be the person that is uncategorisable, who defies the stereotypes or who is just invisible somehow. So I hate the thought that my job/car/boyfriend would reflect anything about me at all. Problem is obviously I cannot avoid the entire rest of the world, I am going to have to have a job/car/boyfriend and people are going to know about it.
I have one acquaintance who defies the stereotypes by being a real underachiever - he is extremely smart and personable, but based on his job and car and relationships you'd think he was a loser, because his outside image just doesn't reflect his abilities at all. But he has achieved this privacy by sacrificing money and a satisfying career, and I know that has cost him as well. Someone else might be able to be an overachiever and hang with the cool kids even though they aren't "one of them" really, but that person would feel like a terrible impostor, and in today's market wouldn't even get the job in the first place.
So that leaves me being myself. But if I am myself, then my job reflects who I am, so if I work as an Accountant at Z Co, then people can assume I am a "Z Co kind of a person", and I have to live with all the stereotypes associated with Z Co and with Accountants. Which is precisely what I want to avoid!
So, hive mind, what are some good ways I can balance my need for privacy and desire to be a stereotype-defying individual, with the practical realities of life, and the human desire to categorise and judge and box people?