Throughout the history of Change and Cherish Blog, I have admitted I have a variety of interests some claim are embarrassing. Two particular interests stand out for their associated stereotypes.
Fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic are often portrayed as fat, unhygienic, socially incompetent deviants. These social outcasts only have jobs so they can buy crates of frilly pink merchandise to haphazardly toss about their home.
I try to live apart from the stereotype.
Then there is Dungeons & Dragons, a term used to loosely identify different tabletop role-playing games I play every week. Fans of these games are often described as pale, weedy, sweaty guys who calculate their chances of real-life success with percentage decimals and talk in high-pitched nasally tones that drive figurative nails into the literal coffin that was once your head.
My hardcore group of tabletop gamers try to live apart from this stereotype as well.
I have been stereotyped my whole life because of my interests, whether it's my entertainment choices, my country, my personality, or my faith and religion. Living as a white Mormon in Jamaica for two years certainly offered me a lot of interesting experiences.
Many people criticize others for their association with certain groups. Racism and sexism are examples. Animosity between strangers belonging to different sports teams is another. Any disgust directed toward certain 'labels' serves to suggest society has become highly critical of entire swathes of people because of a reliance on said labels.
But the thing is, I'm proud of what I'm interested in.
Because of my unique hodgepodge of knowledge spanning multiple cultures, I am an individual.
Think about it. How many people do you know who exactly match the description of myself as presented in this blog post? I may be considered a 'sheep' in some circles, blindly abiding by the identifications required by certain groups, but then I'm being judged by only one of my interests.
I am defined by my whole sum.
Yeah, it may be weird that I spend an evening a week rolling dice to aid my imaginary dwarf kill imaginary were-witches. But if someone took the time to know how I feel about the hobby, as opposed to making judgments about my lifestyle, then they might realize I'm not that nasally. I don't claim that everyone who talks to me about Dungeons & Dragons will like it. At the same time, I disbelieve that preconceived judgments have any place in our world.
My challenge for you today is simple. If you meet someone new this week, ask them about their more obscure interests. Ask that person how they found those interests. Ask that person why they have those interests.
Let's not be ignorant about each other.