I absolutely hate being stereotyped.

No one wants to be labeled, categorized, or put into a box, and although we’ve all probably had stereotypical thoughts about someone we just met, it always baffles me whenever someone shares their oversimplified idea of me to my face.

I never know how to handle it. My first response is typically to make them feel comfortable because it’s always so darn awkward, then I’ll smile and even agree with them.

Later, after I’ve processed what happened, I’ll get really worked up and I’ll wonder why I didn’t challenge their belief or stand up for myself. Why didn’t I value myself enough to speak the truth?

I cared more about their feelings than my own.

I cared more about keeping the peace than having a fierce conversation.

When I was in college and cheerleading for football I used to dread going up in partner stunts as it brought us really close to the audience. I was close enough to see the look of judgement pass over certain faces—usually the girls sitting next to their boyfriends.

I’d imagine how they were sizing me up as some dumb, blonde, partying, slutty cheerleader when I knew I spent all my free time in the library, never went to a single party, never drank alcohol, and waited for marriage to be intimate.

Looking back, it reinforced the life lesson that things aren’t always as they appear to be.

From as young as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be seen, heard. and understood, and I’ve resisted labels. Like the time in third grade when I beat all the boys at pull ups and pushups in PE and one of the boys made fun of me on our walk home.

He told me because I was so strong I would have pecs when I grew up and boys wouldn’t like that. The message: It’s not attractive or acceptable for girls to be as strong or stronger than boys. I didn’t let his comment get to me, though.

I had a lot of moxie and responded with some snarky and witty comment back, but I never forgot what he said.

I think we label and oversimplify people. We put them into categories so we know how to respond to them or where to place them in our core beliefs, and that gives us a (false) sense of safety, order, and control.

The truth is each person is complicated, unique, layered, and truly individual. I’m drawn to the depth in a person and I always feel honored when someone feels safe enough to open up and be vulnerable with me.

Because of my experiences being judged, categorized, and stereotyped, I try to come from the mindset of really getting to know someone before sizing them up and deciding who I think they are, instead of only going off my external observations.

Several judgmental situations that happened a couple weeks ago inspired me to write about this topic today. I was reminded of how hurtful it is to be labeled when:

-I was called money-hungry for taking a new job to support my family

-I was told by someone I’d just met that people with cancer give it to themselves (right after I told them my personal story)

-I was insulted for my “lack” of intelligence by someone who had a 10-second conversation with me at a conference

-I was called an adult child that needed parenting (I’m 33, by the way, and this person wasn’t even one of my parents)

By the end of the week, I was emotionally beat down, in tears, and ready to go back home to my comfort zone, but it hit me that day that this is the world we live in.

There are always going to be stereotypes. I can’t change others minds and behavior, all I can do is change my own and remember how it feels to be boxed in. I can choose to not allow people’s limiting beliefs about me to become my own.

I was reminded most people are drawing their conclusions from their own experiences and pain, and it is never personal. I can choose to not allow it to affect me. I can choose my words, which impact how I make others feel.

In all of the recent scenarios where I was labeled, I walked away politely, not saying anything. I don’t know if how I responded was right or wrong, because I don’t know if standing up for myself would have changed their beliefs about me.

What I do know is that having the power to not take on someone else’s limiting beliefs of us is one of the most empowering choices we can make.

If you relate to my post at all, I want to encourage you to not allow people’s stereotypes, labels, or categories of you to become your viewpoints of yourself. You are one-of-a-kind, unique, individual, and there will never be another you, so value yourself.

You are a child of God, holy and dearly loved. Walk in that truth and don’t let what other’s say stick, let it roll off. You, my friend, keep growing, keep doing you, and keep moving forward! Onwards and Upwards.


10 Responses to “Stereotypical”

  1. Christa E McDaniel

    You are an amazing woman! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Every one of your posts speaks to my heart and my core.

    • Bailey Heard

      Thank you so much Christa and the feeling is mutual! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. It means so much to me that what I’m sharing is hitting home and especially that it’s connecting with your heart and core! Thank you for blessing me with your kindness 🙂

  2. Robert Budd

    Amen Bailey. Stand strong and push forward to be all God designed for you to be. Spiritual warfare exists in this world. Hold on to 1John4:4. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world “. You are destined for greatness. Continue to look up and let the light of His glory give you strength.

    • Bailey Heard

      LOVE this passage Robert! Holding onto this truth! Thank you so much for sharing and for encouraging. You are a light and a blessing!

  3. Cassidy

    When I saw you in stunts I was thinking “Man! I’ve gotta get in better shape! Bailey is a brick house! She’s so sweet she’d never hurt a fly, but she sure could if she wanted to!” And then Laura in Bruiser made me want to take dance lessons! You’re a rock star, lady!

    • Bailey Heard

      Haha!! You’re awesome Cassidy! Yes, Laura made me want to bust a move too! Love that you shared this. Thanks for the encouragement sister!!

  4. Kim

    Bailey, when people say things like that to you, simply reply “I do not receive that as truth.” Behind the lies is the liar. He is seeking to steal your joy, kill your spirit, and destroy your identity. But the truth and the light will push back the darkness and expose him. Do not receive it. State it out loud, and watch the person have to deal with the aftermath of being his messenger.

    • Bailey Heard

      That’s so powerful Kim! I am most certainly going to say that next time it happens. Thank you so much for sharing. I love you and I’m thankful for your friendship and mentorship over the years. Thanks for reading and for encouraging.

  5. Tracy

    Beautiful Bailey? as I read what you wrote I can relate and my heart broke as I read those negative comments. It’s true this is the world we live in and each day I personally have to understand that when these people say what they do it’s a reflection of themselves, their words reflect who they are as a person and as I see that perspective my heart no longer breaks for the condicending words they have said to me but my heart breaks for what is going on inside of them to make them say those things. Their lack of joy, their misery showings it’s face through their words.
    You are amazing and may God continue to shine in all you say and do! Much love to you and your priceless daughter ??✝️?

    • Bailey Heard

      Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful heart Tracy. What you shared is such a good reminder to keep front of mind when dealing with negativity. Thank you for the kind words. You are such a blessing!