When you are in the third grade, earnestly drawing pictures of horses, lost in dreams of riding with wild horses over the open plain, punctuated by dramatic moments of having your life saved by a wild stallion (who fiercely tramples a rattler poised to strike you) and subsequently writing all of these dreamed-of adventures into stories with titles like ‘Wild and Free’; you have no idea you are fulfilling a stereotype.
In the third grade, you have no concern for stereotypes. You don’t know what the word means, and it wouldn’t matter if you did. You are just free to Be.
You are one of the vast numbers of little girls who did not excel at math, but that was fine–English was far more interesting at the time. You were squeamish in science, when it came to the dreaded Dissections of small, helpless creatures; but that was okay, too. The obnoxious and smelly David M. excelled in cutting apart dead things and you definitely didn’t want to be like him.
I did manage to avoid the ‘playing with Barbies’ phase, or dolls in general. I was never attracted to Barbie. Her life was so plastic. It had nothing to do with rounding up strays in Big Sky country.
In the third grade, life of home, school, and Grandma’s kitchen is small, but the possibilities are vast. In the third grade, you are Wild and Free.
It is only later that you find you have traveled on well-trodden paths where other eager children have passed before you. It is even possible those youthful, trampling feet were clad in similar Saddle shoes of two-toned leather thrust upon us by our well-meaning mothers. (I hated those shoes, and wanted to dispose of them much as my stallion savior disposed of the venomous snake.)
Yet the universe was out there, waiting. I say that because a.) I am highly imaginative, and b.) ‘Stereotypes’ is actually a daunting topic about narrow, constrained pathways that we suddenly find ourselves in to the glee of marketing analysts everywhere. A sort of ‘help I’m trending and I can’t stop’ dilemma.
I am not referring to damaging stereotypes that come from people’s minds and prejudices, but those that have to do with genetics, inherited traits and Preconceptions that grow up into Misconceptions which further translate into Missed Opportunities. I have some half-baked kindergarten physics ideas that universal laws are somehow involved. I don’t know…like giant laundry chutes that sort us into efficient loads, a quantum compartmentalization, if you will. (okay, so I failed more than Dissections in Science Class)
If you would like to read a real and useful discussion about stereotypes, read here. (article by Art Markman) In his blog, he makes this comment:
‘We suggested that having a negative stereotype puts you in a defensive motivational mode. You are prepared for negative outcomes…’
Wow is that true. I learned to sew in spite of my mother, who always insisted that my older sister took after Grandma (both of them excellent seamstresses) while I, on the other hand, took after mom, who hated to sew. She even accused it of giving her a Nervous Breakdown In Home Economics Class. Apparently she was struggling to sew on a zipper with the teacher watching and had a complete meltdown. Thus, when she came to visit me one day after I was newly married and saw me (rather furtively) sewing up curtains for my kitchen, she was indignant. “I was not supposed to like sewing because SHE didn’t like sewing.”
Therefore, while I did learn to sew with a fair amount of proficiency laced with anxiety and a sense of looming failure, I was never confident that I actually ‘knew’ what I was doing, because somehow, in the universal view of fate-like conduits and laundry chutes, I wasn’t supposed to be sewing at all. (side note: the curtains turned out really pretty; very Laura Ashley and the quintessential cottage sprig of the ’80’s but as google analytics will tell you we’re all more Downton Abbey chic now).
Even now, as I type this blog entry–a fifty plus baby boomer with all the latest devices and gadgetry (‘Not Without My Garlic Press!!’), Facebook likes and ‘friends’, personalized ring tones, Instagram posts of…wait for it…latte crema perfection, my own etsy store where I can compete with 45 million other people trying to sell a necklace and yes, multiple pinterest pins–I am aware that I am a stereotype of the brave new world. Marketers know what sort of advertisements to thrust into my view and that I will, most likely, click on the link that leads me to the Anthropologie lace cardigan and leather riding boots that look too young for me.
It’s alright, really. In my heart I’m a carefree third grader with dreams and stories, and the universe yet to discover. In my heart I’m still wild and free. Oh, but did I mention that I just received my AARP card in the mail? The one that touts ‘Real Possibilities’? I didn’t even ask for it. It’s wonderful how these things work. They Just Knew. The laundry chute journey into quantum conformity continues!
Just to show a tiny whisper of the freedom my heart longs for, I’m going to start a new pinterest board with nothing but pictures of wild horses. It will thrill me to look at them. Just like yesterday and my starstruck third-graderness.
So follow me on pinterest (genusrosa) and join me as we click and drag together! The universe will be pleased.