Beneath the Surface (Looking Beyond Appearances)

He sits on the barstool next to my husband.  He is half my age.  He is sporting a full beard and a ponytail.  He is dressed all in black with a band t-shirt that I will later learn via an internet search is for a death metal group.

We could not be more different.  We appear to have nothing in common.  Well, aside from the fact that I am an aging 80s headbanger, though mine was more power ballad hair bands instead of thrash music.

He orders a draft beer and strikes up a conversation with us.  It turns out we have a mutual affection for craft beers, in particular the Octoberfest varieties soon to hit the shelves (thank you beer gods).  Soon he is describing the foodie scene in his hometown of Portland, Maine.  He shows us pictures from his recent camping trip to the gorgeous Vermont mountains.  He tells us about his college days and his plans to attend a custom guitar building school after graduation.

He is smart, witty, and engaging.  The three of us talk for hours about a myriad of subjects.  He is an attentive listener and an interesting storyteller.  I find that I want to get to know him better.  By the end of the night we feel like fast friends.

The scene I just described played itself out one evening earlier this week.  The young man is our nephew on my husband’s side, and he was in town to visit family.  While he is not a stranger to me, he is someone who I had met only a handful of times.  It had been years since I had last seen him, so in some ways I was now “meeting” him as an adult.

I relay this story to you because it got me thinking about appearances and how we react to them.  I found myself wondering how often we miss out on meeting amazing people because we have knee-jerk reactions to the way they look.  If I had to guess I would say this automatic dismissal of people based on their outward representation of themselves happens far more often than we might care to admit.

As a people-watcher and an avid observer of human nature I see this sort of thing happen time and again.  We tend to gravitate toward people who are in our age range, dress like we do, and enjoy the same things that we do.  Imagine, though, if we all broadened our horizons and reached out to those who we might initially pass by.  I do not believe we do this with any malice or animosity, rather it is from a sense of hesitancy and apprehension of the unknown.

I would like to think that if the young man in the story had not been my nephew I would have engaged in that same conversation.  That I would have set aside my initial thoughts that I would have nothing in common with him, or that we would not be able to relate to one another.  However, I have been guilty of judging someone by appearance or by presumption, my own self-created version of a person based on a first glance or a brief meeting.  I almost missed out on a wonderful friendship with a woman I pre-judged, but thankfully life presented us with a second opportunity to connect.

I am learning to look beneath the surface.  I am open to finding out what it is that constitutes the “more than meets the eye” in people.  I want others to offer the same courtesy to me, and so I will gladly extend myself to them.

There are people who are unable to see past outward appearances.  If someone does not fit the homogeneous grouping they belong to then they are not willing to extend themselves.  I find that I feel sorry for these misguided souls, for with their reflexive actions they are depriving themselves of some great company.  They are missing out on possibly making cool new lifetime friends, like the one I made this week.

Do you have your own similar experience to share?  Do you step out of your “box” to meet others?  As always I welcome your comments and feedback.  Just for fun, and to prove I was an 80s headbanger girl, I am including a photo from my long ago high school days.  Try not to fall over laughing… Cheers! Karen

My 80s metal days...and yes, people did tend to avoid me at the mall!

My 80s metal days…and yes, people did tend to avoid me at the mall!

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35 thoughts on “Beneath the Surface (Looking Beyond Appearances)

  1. Haha I love the photo!

    I am working on trying to approach people who don’t look like the kind of people that I’d be friends with because I’m probably missing out on meeting a lot of great people. When I learn to become less awkward I might actually have some success!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can add what it is like to get “ignored” by people because if your ourward appearance. As an individual who is overweight, I have been finding myself on the outskirts alot lately. In the past few months I have been noticing that a lot of people won’t look me in the eyes when speaking to me, they will try to look anywhere else when speaking to me. I think it has always been that way, it is just that I am noticing it now. Even in groups I tend to be left out of the conversation a lot … Even when I say something it barely will get acknowledged and then the conversation shifts. I don’t think people do it intentionally, but it still hurts. I know that I am a good person with a kind heart and lots to offer to friends and acquaintances. I am working to lose weight but it is a long process that is even harder when having to deal with health issues … Yes, some of which have been brought on by my weight. However, if you won’t talk to me, let alone look at me, how will you ever know anything about me?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Jennifer,
      I am grateful that you chose to share your story here. This is exactly the type of thing that people need to hear, so that they can perhaps begin to understand how their actions (or non-actions) can impact another person. I am sorry to know that you have been subjected to this pre-judgment, and I am sure that by doing so people are missing out on an opportunity to get to know a wonderful person. Maybe we can open some eyes today… I will do my part to keep working on it! Thank you again for speaking openly about a difficult, painful subject.
      Best,
      Karen

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathy and I had a wonderful conversation with a lovely couple last week on vacation. We were having breakfast and sat next to them. They seemed very quiet and slightly older than us. I don’t remember what prompted a comment between us, but we ended up having a long, lively, animated conversation and discovered many things in common. It was so refreshing and enjoyable.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh, that hair!

    I’m not too outgoing (not the type to strike up or engage in a conversation with a random person), but I do try not to make assumptions about people based on their looks, where they’re from, etc. as I don’t want anyone making them about me.

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    • I am not outgoing either, but I find that if I do extend myself it is almost always worth the effort. I just have to do the “introvert recovery” thing at home afterward. 😉 I think I try not to judge based on appearance because I know that I have been judged on mine- for looking unapproachable (the curse of the Resting Bitch Face).

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  5. What a wonderful post and picture. 😀

    I’m very visual. And I will judge you by your appearance too but none of that will stop me from having a conversation with you.

    What usually do is when I feel something isn’t right. Then I stay in my lane.

    But most of the times everywhere I go, and I do mean everywhere, I always meet someone new and make them laugh.

    It could be a child or senior citizen. They could be Latin American or Caucasian. As long as I’m comfortable Im going to be me and that’s enjoying life, having fun and laughing often.

    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Fabulous photograph! 🙂 I’ve found that when I come into social situations and keep an open mind and an active interest to make connections, they happen. I have had refreshing connections with people I never thought I would. I’ve been very surprised by connections to education and music when socializing at triathlon sport events with my husband. Love reading your posts!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Look at that hair, brilliant! I think that most of us are guilty of pre-judging a person on their outward appearance, and like you say, we could be missing out because of it. When my eldest brother got married in the late 80s, he was part of a motorbike club, Typically he and his friends had loads of tattoos, earrings, leather jackets etc.. Ironically he chose top hat and tails to get married in and tied his hair back for the occasion, His wife had a trumpet playing as she walked into the church and the reception was in quite a posh hotel.
    Most oh his mates came in their usual attire and had names like ‘Dirty’, ‘Pasty’ and ‘Speedy’ much to the disgust of the staff! They were a great bunch though and we had a laugh! Oh, and the wedding cake was made in the emblem of the bike’s badge!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh I just love your hair!!! This was a particularly fantastic (which is really saying something because I think all your posts are fantastic) post. This is something I try very hard to do, but sometimes it’s easier than others. It’s amazing the friends you can meet, and what you can learn, if you reach out and get to know people from other walks of life!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Classic 80’s look!! Bon Jovi would be proud😊your post about how outward appearances determine our actions is both sad and spot on. This type of forum or exchange of ideas is an example of that. How many of us would engage in conversation with people on topics we might not otherwise. Perception and tolerance…if only we’d learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I followed Bon Jovi around the tri-state area the way some people followed the Grateful Dead back in the day. True story, Jon Bon Jovi grabbed my hand at a concert in Philly, and I nearly passed out. LOL!

      You are right in that this blogging community provides us with such a unique opportunity to interact and relate with people from all over the world and of varying cultures. What a blessing that is!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You look adorable! I tend to the introverted side, but I am a good faker. If he had struck up the conversation, I would have talked to him. Otherwise, I wouldn’t from shyness. My hubby on the other hand? He would have bought him a beer and invited him to go windsurfing. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we are alike in that way. It takes a great deal of energy for me to reach out to people. I do find it much easier on sites such as this one versus in person. My husband can be a bit shy to begin with, but once he starts talking to you he’s likely to become a friend before the day is over. 🙂

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  11. I want to believe I don’t judge on appearances, but of course we all do. Maybe I judge more on listening to someone. If they go on and on, I tend to back away even if they’re a nice person. If someone’s fun to talk to (despite what they look like), I’ll stick around.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Well I for one don’t avoid people but I tend to look for people my own age. Its comfortable to talk to someone like that. And as far as appearance goes, it is usually the best looking ones who are worst of the lot(sorry if you are one of them, just my experience)

    Great interesting post!

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    • I agree, and it’s natural to gravitate toward people own our age. I have found, though, that some of my closest friends are people I never would have expected, and they range in age from 15 years younger to 15 years older than me. It is interesting how we can make connections easily on the internet and social media when we remove the appearance factor from the equation…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Absolutely ADORABLE! This is how I will always see you when I open up your blog to read your latest post. In answer to your question, I tend to like meeting different types of people. I have an innate curiosity about what lies beneath the surface. It has proven to be quite enlightening most of the time. Clare

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