Humans Aren’t Categories

As I was anxiously waiting to walk across the stage at my high school graduation, I got the privilege to listen to my best friend’s valedictorian speech. Megan talked about “The Importance of the Individual” and it got me thinking.

Throughout our high school careers, Megan and I had many conversations about individuality. Society has ripped every ounce of uniqueness within a person and has shoved them into a category. When we started to chit-chat about how tired we are of certain “categories” getting all the credit of our individuality, we realized that this judgment has taken place our entire lives.

I first noticed categorization when I was a little nugget in elementary school. I can’t remember many categories, but I do remember being in one. I was always seen as one of the “populars.” This category really didn’t bother me at the time because I didn’t know any better and thought it was good to be popular. And it is. But the connotation of the word is not. I started hearing kids be categorized as “the less fortunate” and “more fortunate.” And those few words have brain washed small children into thinking that those categories can’t mix. Kids started judging each other by the clothes they wore instead of their personality. 

Middle school was a whole different story. This was the time when kids started to grow and find their place in this world. Our middle school required a strict dress code and categorization was one of the main reasons for it. But that still didn’t help. Even though every kid in the school wore khaki pants, collard shirts, and closed toed shoes, we still judged each other from outward appearances. My category through this era was “preppy.” Again, this positive word has overtaken a negative connotation just because of the way it’s said. Maybe there’s another meaning, but when the word prep comes to mind I think about the girls in the “Click” books who not only have name brand things, but flaunt it around with a snooty attitude. If you knew me during this time, you know that I didn’t fit that criteria. Kids would also poke fun at the “nerds” and trash talk the “jocks.” Point being, no one really got to know the people outside of their “category” including me.

High school. Sweet high school. No I’m actually being serious this wasn’t even the worst one. The thing I loved most about my graduating class is that (for the most part) we all got along. We saw past the different beliefs, views, and opinions and became closer throughout the years. The first few years of high school I got to be me. Whoever I wanted that to be. I got to start fresh. Make new friends. Let people really get to know me. For a while the categorizing stopped until my very last year. My senior year. I truly began to “find myself.” I found hobbies that I enjoyed, and made close bonds with new people. I started to become the person that I wanted to become, but of course I couldn’t just slide through my last year of high school without getting thrown into another category.

I found a style I liked, and stuck with it. I usually wore loose-fitting, flowy clothing. I almost always had a braid or a wild headband in my hair everyday. I started to explore God’s green earth more. I fell in love with nature. I found out that I loved making adventure videos. I listened to a different type of music than most people. The banjo became my new favorite instrument. I began to go on more road trips with my friends. And take a ton of pictures. Now that I’ve explained my whole senior year in a few sentences, what category have you already placed me in? If you didn’t think of one then kudos to you! If you did, don’t worry you’re not the only one. Trust me I’ve heard them all: hippie, gypsy, nature girl, flower child, free spirit, etc. Those words are cool and all but that’s just what they are. Words. Words do not define humans. Categories do not define humans. Yea I love nature, but that doesn’t mean that I partake in drugs and lack morals and values because ultimately that’s what these words portray. There’s a lot more to me than my outward appearance and what I allow people to see on social media, but my “category” ends up getting the credit for who I am than my actually personality does. Hippies: 1 Kelsey: 0.

The reason Megan and I had these conversations was because she has just as much appreciation for nature as I do. In fact, she’s been exploring nature at a way younger age than I ever did. But why doesn’t she get thrown into that category? We came to the conclusion that she just doesn’t “look” the part. How silly to say that, but it’s true. Like I said earlier, Megan was valedictorian of our class. That would make her a nerd right? Wrong. Megan never received the nerd label and that’s because she doesn’t fit the stereotype of a nerd. The funky glasses, uneven hair, calculator in hand, suspender wearing person. People were even shocked that she was number 1 in our class because they saw her as a “dumb blonde.” So Megan gets placed into the “sporty” category because she has larger muscles than most men our age. That’s a HUGE shocker that that’s the category she’s placed in right? Wrong. She only gets placed in that category because of her physical appearance. There’s so much more to Megan that most people overlook just because they stick her into a category and leave her there. So why do we do it? Why do we constantly jump into categorizing people without getting to know their heart first? Most importantly, why do we put our own selves into certain categories? It’s okay to enjoy different things. It’s okay to talk to people who don’t have the same hobbies as you. It’s okay to give an actual human the credit for being who they are rather than giving the category all the credit. And it’s okay to have INDIVIDUALITY because after all, we are INDIVIDUALS.

My reasoning for this post is to allow you to reflect on how many categories you throw someone into a day. I do it just as much as the next person. It’s what we’ve been trained to do. Instead of making assumptions about people, get to know their heart and soul first. It might surprise you.


5 Things I Learned from a Coffee Shop

This past weekend my friend Lauren and I took a small trip to see our other hardworking, dedicated, and might I mention old, college best friends. College is a stressful time in life. Who am I kidding I haven’t been to college yet, but by the looks of Twitter, it’s pretty challenging. On our visit, we decided to mosey on down to a coffee shop to take away the stress of finals. The name of the shop was “Awaken.” That simple name got my brain juices following. Yes our brains have juices. I think. But anyways during that short time we were there, I learned many deep philosophical things. And here they are.

1. WAKE UP!!!!!                                                                        

Great! Now that you’re awake, get up and do something. Anything. Give your pet a bath. Play with your kids. Call a friend and talk to them. Go outside without your phone. Take a shower. Cook a meal. Get some exercise. Do something adventurous. My point is that life is too short. Duh. You only live once! Duh. But seriously. It’s good to have days when we can just kick back and rest, but we can’t kick back and rest every day of our lives. Our world needs us! Most importantly, we need our own selves to stay motivated and creative on days that feel like the end of the world. So if you’ve ever dreamed of doing something daring or extravagant or spontaneous, take the advice from the coffee shop and awaken yourself! YOLO!

2. IT’S OKAY TO BE HAPPY                                                  

Sometimes us humans like to hide our emotions because that’s what society tells us to do. We’re always being told that someone has it better, or what we’re doing isn’t good enough, or that we shouldn’t be happy for ourselves when we succeed because succeeding is already expected. Over time we start to listen to the world and lose the calmness that God has hand delivered to us in a pretty package. If you’re happy and you know it, don’t be afraid to clap your hands, stop your feet, and say “amen!”  

While my friends and I were sitting in this coffee shop sipping on our coffee and making our own s’mores. Yes you heard right. We had a little campfire going inside. Here’s proof.Back to the point. If you’ve ever been to a coffee shop it usually has many photo ops. For the people in the back with troubled hearing (I’ll say that instead of calling out all the old(er) people), ops means opportunities in modern-day language. So my friend Kenz and I started to scope out our set up and we found a few spots that had potential. Naturally, we started moving around the decor to use as props for the photos as you can see in the pictures below. The man who was working at the time just laughed at us the whole time. And so did everyone else that was in the shop. The thing about all the laughter is that it showed that we had something to laugh about. Something to help us forget about whatever stress we had in the back of our minds. Something that allows us to have a moment of peacefulness. And something to show us that in the midst of this messed up world, there are nice people who encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. Like the kind people in the coffee shop. So don’t be ashamed to do something fun that you enjoy. If people stare, then good job you’re doing something right.

3. fuhgeddaboudit                                                                   

Take Donnie Brasco’s advice and just… wait for it… fuhgeddaboutit. Life tends to get busy and run away from our reach sometimes so it’s important to just forget about it every once in a while. I’m not saying to just keep pushing off your work and become a couch potato. Sometimes we just need a day to soak in everything we’re blessed with and get rid of the stress that hangs over us. A good book, a nice bubble bath, some yoga, or even a short walk should do the trick. Point being that every person on this earth, or might I say every hard-working person, deserves time off from his or her work whatever that may be. So don’t get caught up on things that aren’t pushed for time. Instead, take some time living in the moment. After all, we aren’t promised tomorrow.

4. Friends are Valuable                                                          

Do you ever find yourself saying “wow my friends are weird but I like them anyway”? Me too. But that’s what makes our friends… wait for it again… our friends. We get to bond with people who have the same hobbies and likeness as us. It’s just awesome to me that different humans with different views, morals, and attitudes can easily become a shoulder to lean on. A best friend is what most people call it. But what is a best friend you may ask? When I think about it, a best friend is someone who sees all of your flaws, but loves you anyway. Someone who always keeps you in the loop. Someone who you call or text at 3 in the morning to share a story that happened earlier that day. Someone who encourages you in all that you do. Someone that can dish your sarcasm back to you without hesitation. Someone that will tell you the truth about what outfit/ hairstyle looks best on you. It’s a person that will adventure with you whenever the time allows. Most importantly, a best friend is someone who you can sit in complete silence with and it not become awkward. That’s when you know that person is your BFF. When I was looking back at the day I had, I felt extremely blessed with the awesome friends I was surrounded by. You never know how much your friends rub off on you until years have passed and you’ve grown so much as a person. If you haven’t grown any (not physically), and you’ve instead went the opposite way down the root into the ground, then that’s probably a hint that your “friends” probably aren’t really your friends. If you caught my flower metaphor then great, but if you didn’t here’s a small visual. You begin as a little seed that can either rot and not grow at all, or grow into a beautiful sunflower (or the flower of your choice). Outside objects will try its best to knock you down, stomp on you, or just flat out eat you. But if you have strong support and get the opportunity to grow beautifully, then you’ll most likely be picked. To be someone’s best friend. Say it with me. Awwwwww. That’s the whole point of friendships. We couldn’t get through certain situations without their continuous support and patience. And overtime they help us grow for the better. So if you have that type of friendship, never take it for granted. And thank your friends right now for being awesome.

5. Coffee is Confusing                                                              

I think I can speak for everyone on the fact that coffee names are quite confusing to figure out. Of course the coffee can’t just speak to us and tell us what they are like because, like I said, they want to be confusing. Some people would compare it to a teenage girl. You can ask my friends, I literally always order what they order because they have way more knowledge than I do on what sort of coffee is needed at the moment. I have learned about a few facts that pertain to the confusing words written on a chalk board in a different language at a coffee shop though. Be prepared to be enlightened. Black coffee is just coffee that’s black- I only added this one to make my list longer. Iced coffee is just coffee with ice- this one as well. Chai has a spicy taste to it that doesn’t go well with a raw tongue. I learned that the hard way. And people get mad when “espresso” is pronounced as “expresso.” As you can tell, I’m a coffee pro. But really, if you’re stuck at the front of the line and don’t know what to get, you have 2 options. Ask the person taking your ordering their favorite drink and get that, or just simply get what your friend gets. I know by experience that 99.9% of the time neither of these 2 options will end well, so it’s best to just find out what you like before ordering.                                                                                                                       

Who knew that a simple coffee shop would contain so many life lessons. If you didn’t get anything out of these life lessons, then at least you found out a few coffee facts that you probably already knew. Shoutout to all the coffee shops out there. Keep up the good work!