“Does your school have a band you can play in?” asked my unsuspecting drum teacher. I’ve been taking drum lessons for nearly a year now (though I’ve been drumming for much longer). “I don’t go to school.” My specialty is to give cryptic yet truthful answers. It drives most people nuts.
“Are you going to be on school break soon?” he asked another time. I started blankly back – my special powers failing to grant me the mysteriously subtle response I’m usually armed with – though this lasted half a second. “Oh, that’s right, I forgot!” he slapped his forehead, “you’re homeschooled!”
This is the story of how my drum teacher thinks I’m a 14 year old boy. This is the story of how he continues to think that, despite me not giving any evidence for or against this notion. This is the story of how everybody makes assumptions.
Give someone a couple of bricks, and they’ll build a house. Give someone a few pieces of information, and they’ll construct their own story of who and what you are. What’s the glue that holds this together? Assumptions. When you need to fill in a large hole, and you can’t find the right piece? Make a bigger assumption. When one piece falls out and doesn’t fit anymore? Make another assumption on top of it, and put it back in. What’s left is a shaky foundation of crumpling bricks, oozing with slippery goopy glue. The glue is invisible, but present. There can be more glue than substance! But the cement eventually dries out, and it becomes necessary to tear the whole structure down with a hammer and chisel in order to start over, to rebuild the foundation from the ground up.
In this world, the first 3 things someone will take note of about a person are: gender, age, and race (by which I mean skin color, not ethnicity). On top this they pile on class, sexual orientation, dis/ability, profession, family status, personality, community, interests, and tons more. These are all made “at a glance,” often using only visual cues. An unconscious, automatic assessment that defines your entire self in a matter of microseconds.
Everybody makes assumptions given the pieces of information they have, and the ones they don’t have. Put on your glasses, and try to “see” both.