How Do We Break the Stereotypes We’ve Created for Ourselves?


I knew I was “different” from the time I was as young as five.

At 5, I became “quiet” and “sensitive” in kindergarten when I didn’t speak for the first month.

At 14, I earned the nickname “Spacey Katie” because I was always forgetting things and would be so lost in thought I would be oblivious to what was going on around me.

At 21, I became “scatterbrained.” After being nominated to run for president for my sorority, my best friend at the time and boyfriend told me that the role would be too much for me to handle.

At 25, I adopted the descriptor of “intense” after not mincing words in front of a client who was used to being catered to.

At 27, I was given the learning disability diagnosis of ADHD. My test scores reflected those who rarely make it through college.

Why is it that so much of our self-identity is determined by the perception of others? So much of who we are is defined by the affirmation or rejection of our peers and mentors. No matter how small, these labels become ingrained in our subconscious and become a cornerstone of how we view ourselves.

The beauty of being human is we’re much more complex and dynamic than the boxes we (or society) put ourselves in. If we learn to see past invisible lines in the sand, throw away the descriptors that decide our destiny, what happens?

At W&D, we are all about breaking the stereotypes we (and society) have given ourselves. I may be all of the descriptors I’ve earned throughout my life, but they have given me a clear path as to how to look at my potential through a different lens.

My quiet sensitivity makes me a great listener.

My spacey, scatterbrained mind leads me to great ideas and projects I would have never tried.

My intensity gave me the grit and focus needed to open my own business.

My learning disability helped me build my life and business around a strong support system.

This month, we would love to hear from you. What stereotypes are affecting your life that you’d like to break? Write in and let us know what it’s like to live in your world. “What’s it like to be ________ in/at _________? We want you to fill in the blanks. What is it like to live in your shoes?

Lastly, we have a little printable affirmation worksheet for you to help remind yourself that stereotypes do not define you. Only you get to determine what defines you. Here are a couple of “I am” statements followed up with positive affirmations our team came up with:

Image by 2nd Truth

BY Kate Arends - February 27, 2019

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add a comment

  1. Katelin

    February 27th, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Kate – this hits home for me. This space you’ve created has become a new form of free therapy for me and allows me to sit back and think and have these conversations with myself and also my friends. Thank you!

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    February 27th, 2019 at 2:32 pm

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  4. Martina

    February 28th, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    I agree with everything that is written in the article. Yesterday I also broke the stereotype for myself, that I should be an exemplary girl. I ordered an essay for the university for the first time at and went for a walk with my friends. Small, but step forward.

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