• Lindsay Mangold

People Are More Than One Way

Many times, school is a place that makes it hard to break out of your personal definition. Students feel criticism when they try a new clothing trend, there may be comments about talking to (or not talking to) certain people outside their friend group, or they may receive judgement for acting out of the ordinary. All of these things make it difficult to re-invent or re-imagine yourself.

Most dangerously, when students get labeled "the good kid" or "the bad kid", they get very little wiggle room. When students put one another into a singular category, all the generalizations and stereotypes tend to inform their interactions. The bad kid steals. The good kid is smart. The bad kid cheats. The good kid is perfect. Forcing one another (or ourselves) into these stereotypes can be very harmful. "Good kids" who don't stand up to perfection feel anxious and secretive. "Bad kids" who don't cause harm get wrongfully blamed and become angry.

Teaching this lesson allows everyone to be every thing. At times, I can be brave, and other times I am a coward. Sometimes I feel talented, but other times I feel like I'm never going to get something right. Allowing ourselves and others to live in all of these descriptors means we can be judged by our actions and choices alone - not the rigid stereotypes that we seem to fit into.

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