By Shaifali Agrawal:
What strikes you when you hear the word ‘stereotype’? The patriarchal society some time ago, which exists in little measure even now, where even the worst of men, in terms of capabilities or any specific ability, considered themselves better than the best of women in that regard? The more common stereotypical example is the White Man’s Burden where the Whites have the duty, as a cultivated tribe to correct the savage Black tribe, where both sides know that the White is superior and come what may, the Black can never really become as great, as civilised, as intelligent as the Whites are.
We all are a product of one such society and unconsciously, adhere and conform to such stereotypes. One more apparent example is the labelling of kids and batch mates in college. Remember your year as a fresher? You based your life, liberty and happiness on the group you are in. You had to be very careful of the image you set in the first year, because that was how you would be judged for the coming three or four years of your life. So do you now recollect movies like Mean Girls and shows like Gossip Girl? All that is not really unreal, it does happen, though in a manner that is a little less exaggerated.
You obviously want to be surrounded by people like yourselves, people with the same interests as yours. You want to hang out with people who do not question, but accept whatever it is that you do. So there emerged the cliques like the ‘cool’ ones partying every evening; people with talent, those who sing, or paint, or have an eye for photography; the so called ‘geeks’ who get a 5/5 on attendance every semester; the popular people and those behind the stage during every cultural event of college. I am pretty sure their facebook friend list would be exceeding eight hundred friends and they are the ones who have contacts.
But are these cliques baseless? Is your identity and personality a mere imitation of several other people with whom you share the image? Is human personality not that varied and diverse as I thought it was? Is it not something that is unique? Whether this holds true or not, the worse part of labelling a person is the result of self-stereotyping. People subconsciously start acting and behaving in a way which is expected out of them.
But staying within the cliques and being unable to unhinge yourself from your image, you will miss out on much in the world. There is no diversity in your life, you do not get out of your comfort zone and are always surrounded by people who accept you. How would you then progress and try out new things? Trying to meet new people and people with varied interests would bring diversity in your life and you might start to indulge in things you would have never even thought of. But maybe, the problem is, in college we start getting comfortable in our own skin and we don’t want to go out of our way to do anything new, or experience a change. We have accepted that, for example, we are good at singing and bad at football, so we would never even try venturing into the sports ground. And to think of it, it was Primary School when whatever talent we possessed was absolutely necessary to have been embossed out.
So for those four years of your life, have you stepped into the right coterie? Are you satisfied to be labelled as what you are? Is your image really you? Or only your closest friends know that you don’t love to party every night and are a very small-town girl/boy at heart? Do think about it.