Avoiding ASSumptions

Last night I received a message from someone with whom I have frequently worked in the past. Our “relationship” is 100% professional and I know nothing about this person other than she is an older woman who lives in a southern state. We often communicate about items I might have on hand that she is interested in and when I know I have something she might be interested in, I send her a message. To make a long story short, I received a message from this person yesterday about certain fragrances I have “in stock.” I won’t go into the details of the message (I do not want nor mean to offend anyone who might be reading this, I just want to make a point!) but it was ASSUMED that because I am a “young woman” who runs some sort of business (anything really counts as a “business” in my mind, even blogging here at this level now!) that I, by default, was married and had a house full of kids running around.

I had been feeling really pretty good yesterday both physically and mentally / emotionally … but this kind of stuck a knife through my heart. It is not that I want necessarily to be married NOW and I certainly do not want a house full of kids running around, but the ASSUMPTION behind it, however benign the intent (necessarily unknown but ASSUMED … see I’m getting myself into trouble again!) might have been, hurt me very deeply. The pain of missing out on all of the things people normally go through in their 20s – graduating college, going on to grad school or a profession or working and being independent, finding someone you (hopefully really do) love, “settling down,” having a family, gaining more friends, traveling, &c. &c. &c. – is a pain I really do not think people who have not been through it can understand … and it is a pain I would NEVER wish on anyone. Even one small aspect of it – take JUST the inability to graduate after graduating high school a year early (and voluntarily giving up my valedictorian status in order to do so) – is absolutely devastating. Even if you can manage to come to terms with ONE thing (the repercussions that multiply infinitely are another issue altogether …), the path you worked so hard to follow falls out from under you; all the work and struggle you put in to get to that ONE thing end up being left as memories somewhere in the now-distant past. *I am not saying I will never “pick things back up,” but things, necessarily, cannot be the way they were and I cannot somehow gather that time back and somehow make up for the decade all of the other people in that “area” have in experience, &c.*

I realize this is probably something of an incoherent post – it is a deeply emotional topic for me and one that, without fail, makes me cry (at least when I CAN cry). I don’t want to get too much into the “me me me”s of it all because anyone who has gone through this sort of thing knows how profoundly it has affected him or her as well. What I am ultimately trying to say is that the assumptions others make based on generalizations of “normal, healthy” people that, when misdirected (intentionally or not) cause serious emotional pain and the most sincere feeling of “lack” I can imagine.

The lesson in all of this (I don’t mean to sound “lecture-y;” I realize I sometimes come off that way, but honestly these posts are as much for my own learning as for anyone else’s!) is never to make assumptions about another person’s life simply because what you think you “know” about life in general does not apply to everyone – and even mentioning such things or insinuating such things can trigger very severe psychological trauma. We all make assumptions about others to some extent, often without realizing we are doing so. But having just been accidentally in the “line of fire” has made me realize that we have to really just take people as people until we learn more about them. What if I had been a woman who desperately wanted children and simply couldn’t have them? What if I had had several failed pregnancies and miscarriages? There are so many reasons why this seemingly benign type of conversation could very seriously hurt another person. And with that, I just ask all of us to please not generalize in this sort of way both for the benefit of those who might be hurt by our “assumptions” and for our own benefit in being more at peace with ourselves and with others.

I hope you are all having a happy and healthy start to your weekend! I will be back soon soon soon!

❤ Always, Beth

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