Everyone’s a bit different

Published 12:24 am Saturday, September 27, 2014

I was born in the South, raised in the South, went to school in the South. I’ve always been in the South, but I can’t recall ever being referred to as “Southern.”
Maybe it’s because I’m missing that tell tale twang, or that I pronounce the “g” at the end of words. I tend to avoid situations that require addressing two or more people at once. You may never see me order a sweet tea, and I couldn’t name a Hank Williams song if my life depended on it. (Spoiler alert!) I got a lot of Yankee jokes in high school.
I got mocked for using proper grammar in informal settings. People’s jaws would drop when I told them I had never been hunting or ridden a four-wheeler.
I didn’t care, because despite my lack of stereotypical Southernisms and country music knowledge, I know the South has shaped who I am. I “yes ma’am” and “no sir.” I appreciate bourbon and Johnny Cash. I grabbed a cardigan this week when the temperature dropped below 80 degrees, and I don’t know what to do with snow (how is it fluffy but wet at the same time?).
No, those things don’t mean I’m a stereotypical Southerner, but does anyone really fit into a mold?
Each person, every individual, is shaped by his or her experiences. No two people will have the exact same experiences and the same reactions to those experiences. None of us are exactly alike, contrary to what movies, television and Buzzfeed lead us to believe.
This is something that is too often forgotten. People make judgments based on appearances and where someone grew up, but those things don’t define a person, they simply accentuate a person, or maybe they tell a piece of the bigger story.
It’s a cliché, but you really can’t judge a book by its cover. You have to give someone a chance to show you who they really are. They may have characteristics that remind you of someone else, but remember it’s not the same person (or maybe they were cloned – who knows).
That’s the best way to get someone to be him or herself – by being open to who they are and holding back unsolicited judgments.
People are hard enough on themselves; they don’t need you passing judgment about their lives too.

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