Saturday, September 3, 2016

High School Stereotypes that don't go away

I was at Sanil's school yesterday for the Curriculum Evening for middle school. Three plus hours of walking from class to class for teacher briefings. Objective was to put ourselves in our kids shoes to understand their schedule and expectations from the teachers. Sanil warned me it was 'lame' and I 'did not have to do everything the school asked' and 'be Ms. Goody Two-Shoes' all the time. I did not pay heed to his advice. 

Very kindly the school advised parents to wear comfortable shoes. That advice I totally heeded. I was very sensibly dressed. 

- No legs, no cleavage show (have to look mum-like)
- Glasses firmly perched on my nose (so I could read the slides)
- Jeans and Long sleeves top (so I don't freeze in the air con)
- Minimal make up- just light lipstick (same reason point No. 1)

But at the last minute, just before I was rushing to catch my Uber, I slipped on my latest acquisition. A ring. Now women my age should adorn solitaires or semi precious stones at the minimum. My ring was this:

- Picked up at a local flea market
- Designed by comic enthusiast who makes jewelry from original comics. Batman cuff links anyone?
- And truly and totally irreverent

No one else noticed. No one would care. But I love doing one tiny little thing that does not conform. Always have...

I was also the one who carried my small pink notebook in my purse to jot down important points during the teacher talk. 

I was back at being the nerdy girl in school who lived in her own world.

Then I looked around the classroom and found every one of the stereotypes

1) The Front Bencher- The first one to put the hand up to ask questions
2) The Cute Guy- on the next table, who is always taken
3) The Flirty Chic- who would chat with every handsome male teacher after each session 
4) The Lost Guy- who moved from class to class following the herd and totally unsure why he was there in the first place (reckon this was his wife's punishment for forgetting some anniversary)
5) The Social Butterfly- who flitted from parent to parent exchanging numbers and creating whatsapp groups at speed of lightening
6) The Man's-Man- who walked around like he was in command but in reality was only there as his wife insisted he get 'more involved with the kids education'

And I am not even getting into the nation stereotypes like the Asian dad who took on the challenge to solve the Math equations the teacher had put up on the board. Or the desi sherni mom who asked about the dates of the first assessments and wrote them on her thick bound folder in deep red ink (ok, there was no folder. It was a piece of paper. And the pen could've been blue)

I could not help but our inherent traits ever change? I am still the girl who stands away from crowds, talks to only few people she knows and always sits at the corner tables where she can get in and out unnoticed. 

So if we have not changed since High School, why do we expect others to act differently? 

The jerk who broke your heart in college is no different from the grown up man who at 40 still suffers from commitment phobia.

Or the popular cheerleader who was nice to you only because she wanted to borrow your notes, is no different from the mother who only calls you when she wants pick up/drop off favors from soccer class.

Or the cool kids who want you in the study group but not in the fancy parties are the same ones who would reach out when they need help to organise a community event but not have you over for the after-party.

But then, just like that, you find your people. The girl who was shy but had a wacky sense of humor. The boy who read Fountainhead at 14 but was not pretentious about it. The mum who suppressed a giggle every time sherni wrote in her bound folder with the red pen. The man who was more comfortable chatting with the kids and getting to know them rather than strategizing to impress the teacher. The lady with a resting bitch face like yours which actually hides the mischievous glint in her eyes.

Next time you are at a school, in office or at a networking event, look around carefully. You will find your crowd- those people with whom you feel like you truly belong.

They existed in high school and and they are around now. And once you find them every PTA meeting is as much fun as being back in the college canteen.

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