Biases, Stereotypes and First Loves

Walter Mitty

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Biases and stereotypes.  We all have them or embody them, in varying degrees.  What happens when our first loves or secret desires are incongruous with those stereotypes?

I got to thinking about this after reading an email from one of my employees.  She was complaining about her case manager poo-pooing her job ideas for an injured worker.  In her note, she decried stereotyping and used her husband as an example.  She stated (paraphrased and tweaked for confidentiality reasons), “my husband was a truck driver and after that a prison guard but his preferences?  He likes cooking, poodles, growing roses and would rather watch Anne Hathaway and Hugh Grant than Vin Diesel….”

So, what preconceived notions might others have of me based solely on my resume? First, I’m a CPA.  I used to work for Arthur Andersen & Co. … in Texas.  I have shredded work papers before.  No, not THOSE work papers. I left before THE BIG SCANDAL.  I worked in mortgage banking.  I left before that big brouhaha too.  I work in insurance now.  I’ve told my colleagues to beware if and when I leave, for I am a bellwether sea-faring rat.

I’ve been told accounting and creative writing seemed oxymoronish, an unlikely pairing of interests and abilities.  Maybe it’s more that people just have preconceived notions about who CPAs are and who authors are.  I know before I started writing, I used to picture authors as people who wore black turtlenecks, corduroy pants and beat up shoes.  They frequently suffered writer’s block and would stare at blank sheets of paper before working forty eight hours straight typing, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”

Some stereotypes are rooted in truths, however.  Yes, I am numbers-oriented.  I can’t help it.  I convert most decisions to dollars and cents in my head.  I know what LIFO means and how to compute a weighted average.  I also wear glasses and laugh at jokes like, “What’s purple and commutes?  A boolean grape.”  haha  No, I don’t.  That was a fake laugh.  Even I’m not that lame.  How about this one instead?  “How can you tell when an accountant is extroverted?  He looks at your shoes while he’s talking to you instead of his own.”  Now THAT’S funny!

Point is, most of us couldn’t and don’t make a living doing what we love most.  If we did, the world would be full of rock stars, taste testers, porn actors, stunt doubles, and CEOs with golden parachutes.  Guess which one I’d pick?

Somewhere along the line, reason kicks in and whispers, “Only the best of the best, the incredibly lucky, or the mentally deranged get to do their first love for a living.  Now get back to work on that financial model and stop daydreaming.”

There’s a bit of Walter Mitty in all of us.  I’m lucky enough to be able to share a glimmer of my Mitty visions with readers.  What makes those dreams so precious is they’re unexpected, maybe even forbidden.  Dreams are the spice, the rest is the sustenance.  You can’t have one without the other and have a life worth living.

So, those rock stars?  At least one dreams of having the hand-brain coordination required to operate a ten-key by touch.  That’s his spice in a world of sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Shh….

What’s your unexpected spice?

6 thoughts on “Biases, Stereotypes and First Loves

  1. Yes, its true, that we are all quite prejudice. You can simply say the words construction worker and come up with an image in your mind what that person must like.

    As far as my dream, my spice? That is easy. I think anyone who takes to the world of writing finds it to be the single, unmovable pillar of life, the one thing that can be done that still makes sense when nothing else does.

    Now, to make a living at that would be awesome. That is the dream.

  2. I think this applies to all writers. I recall when I first began. I’d never tell people that’s what I was doing with my time. It was always my friend who’d pipe in after I’d told people I’d become a full-time mum: Now why don’t you tell them what you really do with your days? At the beginning my writing was my secret spice. Now it’s something I say when asked where I work: Oh, I work from home because I’m an author. Stereotypes are easier to shift if we first believe *ourselves* that we shouldn’t be where we’re placed by others.

  3. For a long time I was jealous of all ballerina’s, gymnasts and ice skaters because they were so amazingly coordinated and beautiful and could dance like no one else. I even took a Jazz dance class in college. One semester made me realize I liked administration better. So off I went to become the MBA-schooled business person. But that need for creativity came back out and I started my photography business and then writing from there. So it seems, even then, I get to mix the paycheck with the creative … just in a very different way than I ever thought before. 🙂

    I just LOVE this post!

    • I love dancers, gymnasts and ice skaters and have tried all 3 with varying degrees of success, all of which quickly evaporated the older I got. Everyone needs some sort of creative outlet, methinks.

      Glad you liked the post. Thanks so much for the compliment. 🙂 (Psst…I’ll bet you got the boolean grape joke, didn’t you?…snort…Miss Applied Mathematics)

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