Youthful Personae Live Agelessly

April 25th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

cheer1Surely not all women realtors were cheerleaders, but I’m betting many were. Those who carry themselves with relentless enthusiasm and rigid smiles betray their high-school selves.

How many of us are aware of such pervasive artifacts of our youth that are obvious to others?

Roles we played, things we did, became what we are, from elementary school and even earlier. That’s not necessarily bad, as it can inform our behavior for the better.

Sure, it’s tempting and easy to stereotype and ridicule some traits. There’s the dumb athlete, bluenose Sunday schooler, socially clumsy geek (or in my day AV guy), and such. I was on the receiving end of enough of those.

I was scholar and athlete in high school and college, so I got ribbing from some for being an egghead and bookworm and from others for being a jock. I remember being on a partial swimming scholarship in college and bringing my grade card for each professor to fill in and sign, to hear the philosophy 101 guy (a PhD sort no less) look over my As, including his class, and I think one B, and say in all seriousness, “That’s a pretty good report card…for an athlete.” Another amusing variation were a couple of girls I dated telling me their mothers had informed them of a truth they’d have to adjust too, that as an athlete I’d have a strong sex drive that needed relief. Also, I lost track of the dumb comments about how obvious it was that I must be dumb…because I was blond.

For the generally good stuff though, it’s hard to denigrate Scouts and such. Once an Eagle Scout, you’re likely to forever live out those virtues such as honesty and respect for others. Girl Scouts too do more than enjoy cookies and S’mores. Like U.S. Marines, they tend to consider themselves forever members, with kind of cheerfulness and generosity for other women that comes with that.

More subtle and even more pervasive are what we expect from others and how we interact with them in light of our youthful selves. If everyone, in and out of our families, told us we were pretty or handsome, we continue to hold ourselves as such and act the part. We might have dreadful colored or combed over hair, liver spots everywhere, and Cape Code level of leathery skin, but if we perceive ourselves as good looking, we can flirt joyfully, throw ourselves into sales or public speaking, and be generally extroverted.

Of course, the opposite can be sadly as true. If parents or friends berated our young selves as ugly, we might unfold into swans but still think of ourselves as hard to view. Likewise, fat or skinny kids can grow or exercise themselves into well proportioned adults, but see themselves forever as their out-of-proportion younger versions.

I prefer to enjoy the positive aspects that most of us have just under the skin and always in action. Truly it’s fun and a pleasant sport to imagine or realize what roles people played in school. Give it a shot with people you didn’t grow up around and don’t know that well.

You can probably figure out which guys were football players, which folk were in drama club, and who were those cheerleaders. Actually that has useful application, kind of like knowing their Myers-Briggs letters. (I’ll start; I’m INTP.)

The real advantage though can be in tolerance. If you realize who was a Scout, who a chess-club member, who a literary magazine editor (and of course, contributor), you can and should appreciate them for that and cut them some slack. I’m sure you’d like them to do the same for you.

Tags: harrumphharrumpherpersonalitystereotypesmaturingcontinuity


2 Responses

  1. fausto says:

    Another INTP here.

  2. Harrumpher says:

    Of course, and it is to laugh — we UUs are very heavily Ns.

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