I can never decide if I want to identify with librarians, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Do I want to identify myself as a homeschooler, an American, a Texan, an art history major? So many choices!
Every group has a stereotype. For homeschoolers, my mental image is of a girl in a prairie skirt or a long jumper. The poor thing has awful social skills, even if she can read a novel faster than the average bear. Yup, those are my people. There are exceptions, but we’re going with stereotypes for now. To recap: socially awkward, dorky, and dressed from a scene in Little House on the Prairie. (I totally had a floral bonnet back in the day.) The librarian stereotype doesn’t vary much from that. Switch the jumper for a baggy sweater and you’re pretty much there.
The challenge is when someone is scoffing about [insert group name here]. It never feels like the right time to chime in with, “Oh, I’m a [group name]!”
When I go on trips and Europeans mistake me for an Italian or a Spaniard, I know I should correct them. I usually don’t. Does it really matter?
It’s so nice to fit in. It’s nice for people to look at your shoes and not assume you’re one of those loud, obnoxious Americans with bad taste. (You really can tell American vs. European pretty easily by footwear, just for the record.) It’s nice to have a conversation with someone and not have them wonder if you used to be one of those bonnet-wearing urchins with no social skills.
So the dilemma arises again and again. Do you claim your people? In the ways that really matter, who are your people? And then there’s the matter of whether it’s lying to let something like that slide if you meet someone in a cafe or if you should immediately offer all pertinent information to strangers and acquaintances. Hmm. Just something to think about.