Everyday Profiling

Those who know us in one setting or one role, may think they know who we are, but learning one detail about our personal lives can change their view of us.  In other words, who we are, and how we are seen by others does not always match up,  and can lead to some interesting reactions from others when they learn the truth.   

I will never forget the shock of a young man when he discovered Rock n Roll as part of my music collection.  Because of my feminine classic style of dress, proper demeanor and polite attitude this young man in torn jeans with half his head shaved and a piercing on his face made assumptions about me.  He had no problem believing I liked classical or country music,  but I just did not fit the “profile” of somebody who liked rock or jazz music. 

“Why wouldn’t you embrace the style of the music you love,”  he wanted to know.  According to my young friend, I should want to dress with a certain edge, with metal, leather and torn denim featured prominently.  I explained my eclectic taste in music, which included not only rock and jazz but classical all other kinds of music.  Exploring all kinds of music seemed to be a new concept for the young man. 

My eclectic tastes worried some family friends when I took up Belly Dance in the 70’s with like minded women of all ages with a variety of dance backgrounds, shaking our coin belts, ringing our finger symbols and waving our scarves.  I received one letter from friends who’s jump to judgment was that I was becoming an exotic dancer, and more than a few shocked friends were out to save me from myself.  Line or ballroom dance, or just going to a bar and moving around did not cause the shocked reactions.  Today, many of the moves I did in Belly Dance are performed in Zumba, and nobody bats an eyelash. 

I have had the public and private image as a “creampuff” due to my lack of trophies and awards like others of my family and friends, and likely due to my role as caretaker and concerns about setting a safe example.  My hobbies include crochet, sewing, and other domestic arts, but others are not those of someone who is afraid.  As a child sailing with my Dad I not only learned to sail in all kinds of weather, but jumped overboard and swam ashore for some long distance swims, not competition swimming, but athletic.  

Riding a motor cycle also defies the image of a “creampuff” although I disagree with those who call riding being a daredevil.  Riding does include dangers, but I do wear a helmet, drive defensively, and take safety courses.  I do not jump barrels nor behave in a foolhardy manner. I also try to dress in a feminine manner which attracts attention on the road.  Attracting attention as a rider is good, as other drivers tend not to see motor cycles.  Expressing this to a group of male riders I said I dressed “girly” which they interpreted as wearing a thong!  A thong is not what I meant, and would not be safe attire on the road where rocks can fly up, and things can get tossed from car windows even on the most trouble free of rides.   

I have also been hang gliding.  I may have gotten only a few feet above the sand, but I was clearly airborne and enjoyed a sense of freedom and joy.  And as long as I am bragging, I have also been mountain biking in Hawaii.  Yes I could have gotten hurt. 

In fact, I have gotten hurt.  I got hurt running for a base in a softball game.  I got hurt crossing a street, who knows why.  I got hurt falling off a bike as a child, when I slid on a patch of gravel going around a corner.   I got hurt falling on the edge of a rubber pool as a child and ended up with stitches in my chin.  I got hurt falling with my motor cycle, just like I got hurt on my bike as a child. 

If I am going to get hurt anyway, I may as well get hurt doing something I love. 

We make assumptions about each other, quick judgments based upon how a person looks, how they talk, what we think we know about them.  When the police do this, it is called profiling.  If we stop relying on a profile, a pre-judgment based upon little more than our own prejudices, and stop making assumptions about people, we can learn who they are.  Of course, to learn who they are we must talk to them, learn about them, and share with them. 

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