Working Across Differences

Why is it not good to prejudge people?

Ritti Soncco, Germany

When I was in high school in Germany, there was a tightly-knit group of girls who ruled the hallways. They were considered by my classmates, and by themselves, as the cool ones, although I could never understand why. To me, they all looked too much alike to note any distinct individuality. They dressed alike, wore the same make-up, and were all blonde.

I was going through a rebellious stage, and the more these girls turned their noses up at me, the more outrageous I became. I experimented with crazy clothes, dyed my hair, and, in the aftermath of a rough puberty, became a Goth.

One day, one of the girls was alone with me in the hallway, and she approached me (nervously – to my surprise) to ask me why I wore such dark make-up and dark clothes. She admitted that it intimated her and she just wanted to understand why I did it.

Her honesty surprised and touched me, and I decided to try to be just as honest and open in return: “You know those butterflies with patterns on their wings that look like large eyes? Those patterns are just there to scare off predators, to make them think a larger, more vicious animal is staring back at them. It’s the same with all this make-up. It’s just self-protection.”

Ritti Soncco

In my anger, heavy make-up, Goth clothes and catty puberty, I was consciously putting myself into a position to be pre-judged by people who didn’t know me. It was just a protective shell, a smoke-mirror: if they couldn’t see the real me, they could never hurt me. But when I told the girl my secret, all illusions fell away. Later, a few classmates asked me to help them dress as Goths for Halloween, because they wanted to know what it felt like. And they loved it.

When this girl asked me why I was wearing such heavy make-up, she found out how scared and insecure I was deep down. She began to tell me more about her own insecurities, and we found we had a lot in common – we just had different ways of dealing with it.

If you pre-judge, you’ll never find out how alike we all are. Because we are.

You’ll never find out that we all go through similar things. Sure, we deal with it in different ways, but if we talk about our differences, maybe we can teach each other new tricks to get through it and survive.

Follow Ritti’s process on self-publishing her first novel by visiting herĀ blog!

By Le’Ecia Farmer

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