Flying out of the Pigeonhole
It’s come to my attention in the last few days that I get bothered – really bothered – when it feels like someone is pigeonholing me. As in, someone apparently only seeing me a certain way or with certain qualities, and then me presenting evidence that goes against how they see me, and these people expressing some kind of disbelief about it.
It could be “since when did you get so happy?” or “I thought you said you didn’t like avocado” – based on a conversation from 15 years prior. “Since when did you get interested in this God stuff?” Or some theme of “oh, don’t worry, I know you … I’m sure you’ll change your mind.”
On their side, I realize I don’t have true insights into another person’s thought patterns, but I’m guessing they’re uncomfortable with “change” in general. If I’m not the assumptions and reality they think they know, what does that say about their reality? Is it possible they could be … wrong? Maybe they’re doing they’re own version of “if you are ______, then I am ______.”
On my side, I know the fact this bothers me is that (1) I’m perceiving this as criticism, and (2) I’m feeling as though this person isn’t accepting me. In reality, I guess they’re not, but it’s my piece to own … they didn’t “make me” feel that way; it’s my own perception of the situation. I also know that in the past, I did a lot of compartmentalizing to only present myself as a certain way to certain people. Whatever I thought would make you like me, that’s the person I’d try to be. Ergo, this pigeonholing, in some cases, could be fallout from my past emotional limitations.
I think it gets to be very limiting when we can only see people through a narrow scope. If you only encountered me on this blog, you’ve maybe formed an opinion about what I’m like “in real life.” Maybe you think I’m always happy, gracious, accepting. I can tell you that is NOT the case. I have rough days. I can be judgmental. I have a sarcastic and biting sense of humor. I get angry. I swear. Sometimes loudly.
But these are pieces of my overall being. No single element makes up the whole of who I am. Human beings have a richness about them that is deep and multifaceted. To interpret people so rigidly is restrictive and unfair. And to be sure, I know I’ve done this myself. I make assumptions about how certain people are going to act/react before I even encounter them. I’m working on that.
How do you feel “pigeonholed”?