Sometimes in life, we look the part and become the stereotype. Don't know what that means? Well, what if I break it down like this.... teachers, doctors, lawyers, tattoo artists, stay at home moms... they can all 'look' the part. A teacher, for example, may walk around Target with their lanyard still on, full of fun pins and stickers used to encourage and motivate their students, and their hair slightly frizzy from working in a muggy classroom with twenty hot and sweaty children all day. A doctor may still have her scrubs and clogs on, her badge still clipped to her pocket and deep red marks on her face from wearing her surgical mask and headlamp all day. Lawyers, they are usually easy to spot, with their expensive clothes and footwear, a phone in hand, wireless earbud connected and trying to multitask as they frantically search for the item they need but really don't have time to stop in and get, seemingly talking to themselves as they try to also focus on the call they are on. The tattoo artist, as you may guess, is usually the easiest to recognize and guess the profession, right? Most of them are covered in beautiful and colorful works of art that are visible on almost every inch of uncovered skin, moving around with a relaxed jaunt and a calm expression on their face, as they have discovered what makes them happy in life, and people come to them because they want to, not because they have to, which makes for an enjoyable day filled with making people happy. The stay at home mom (now remember, we are in Target), in my opinion, can be the easiest to spot, especially if, by the power of gray skull, she is shopping ALONE! She will be the one in the yoga pants, possibly with leftover baby food smeared on the back of her shirt that she had no idea was there, hair in a messy bun, because let's be honest, she hasn't had time to do her hair in days, and the tell-tale cup of Starbucks in her hand as she slowly pushes her cart around at a leisurely pace, eyes full of excitement as she takes in all of the pretties and fills her cart full...even though she just came to get a package of diapers. This is her happy place, and she can forget her worries, her exhaustion and her duties, for even just the twenty minutes it takes her to finally drink a hot coffee.
But what if I told you that all of our preconceived notions of what these professions looked like, was just a farce? What if the teacher looked like the tattoo artist, covered in bright, beautiful tattoos? What if the lawyer looked like the teacher, and nothing at all like what I described prior? What if the tattoo artist looked like the doctor and had no tattoos of his own? What if, wait for it, the stay-at-home mom, is also a lawyer, but looks like the stay-at-home mom due to having just had a baby and is out of the house for the first time in three weeks?
We learn from a very early age to never judge a book by its cover, yet as we get older, that seems to get harder and harder to do, doesn't it? I think the reason for that is that we get wiser as we get older (ok, SOME of us do, some never do, and don't refuse to... Peter Pan syndrome of sorts), which enables us to have better a sense of the people around us. We can pick up on the minor details that our younger selves can't. We see the bags under the eyes, the exhaustion in the body language, and recognize the 'uniforms' of those around us. While these acquired identification skills can be helpful at times, they can also cause us to misjudge the world around us, because in all honesty, not everything is what it seems, and sometimes in our own exhaustion or hurried state, our brains get foggy and we stop remembering to not assume. We forgot those basic skills our parents and grade school teachers instilled in us, and we have now become the hypocrites that we once swore we would never be.
Why do I bring this up? That's easy; I am a cookier, who sometimes looks like a business professional that works for a corporation... who sometimes looks like a stay-at-home mom.... who sometimes looks like a teacher... who sometimes looks like a lawyer.... who sometimes looks like a doctor (minus the scrubs)… who sometimes looks like a cookier... but who never looks like a tattoo artist (sadly, I have never gotten that tattoo I promised myself I would get when I turned 30...which of course was just last year... plus thirteen years ago... sigh). Yet I want people to know that I am a cookier. So do I need to look the part every time I leave the house?
But what does a cookier look like you might ask? Some of you may even be thinking "what is a 'cookier'?". Let me start by defining what a cookier is: A 'Cookier' is the professional name given to those of us that bake, decorate and create cookie art to sell. While I am not sure where the name came from, I found out last year, as I got invited to the local cookier club (yes, we have clubs and Facebook pages, support groups, and pages on Etsy), that my new side hustle had a name, and that by learning how to sell my edible art, I was officially a member of the cookier society.
Now, what we cookiers look like, is what I find so comical. It is very hard for even those of us that ARE cookiers, to spot other cookiers. The reason being is that when we leave the house, we don't look like anything specific, unless, and let's be honest this can happen often, we left the house in an absolute rushed panic to head to the store to get meringue powder (if you know, you know), and we forgot to remove our tell-tale items: apron (covered in flour, powdered sugar, food coloring and coffee stains), bandana (for us non-bun wearing hair types), headband (for us hip, messy bun types), Crocks with socks, sweat pants, tee shirt, no make-up and usually with some sort of floured hand print on our thighs/butt/face.
If we leave the house during the baking, piping or decorating phases of cookie making, then we are very detectable, most likely, even to the non-professional cookiers. But if we are out of the house for a planned outing, such as going to our full-time professions (keep in mind that most of us are only cookiers as our side hustles), then you would never be able to tell that we do this profession. We look like all of the mentioned professions above, and even more that were not mentioned.
Why am I talking about this? Well, it dawned on me as I was waiting in line the other day at a local store, that I was people watching, and taking in what I saw. I have always been able to see details about people that others seem to ignore, but it made me realize that I could tell the man next to me was exhausted. He had deep, dark circles under his eyes. His shoulders were slumped, his movements slow. He had on wrinkled scrubs, a 5 o'clock shadow sneaking out the sides and bottom of his mask. I caught myself instantly thinking he must be in healthcare... but then I started thinking to myself that there are a lot of other professions that wear scrubs besides healthcare. He could be a scrubber for the local government ran company that builds space satellites. He could be a housekeeper. He could be a person that very simply, likes to wear scrubs. That thought had me looking closer at the other people in the store. Was she a police officer just getting off duty? Was he a paramedic getting food to take to his shift crew tomorrow? Was the teenager in front of me shopping for his family because they are too sick to leave the house? And the biggest thought that hit me was "why are you standing here thinking about this?"
I train people customer service at my professional job. I carry that into my daily interactions (when I get to actually interact with someone!) with those that I meet or talk to. I will always take time to say hello, ask how they are, and thank them before we depart. I will also always try to tell them to have a great (insert time of day that is appropriate). I will tell the stranger in the store that I like their (insert blouse, hair, shoes, etc.), and usually they will pause and look shocked that someone spoke to them and complimented them... but then I usually get a smile and thank you from them. My hope is that they will then play it forward, and give someone else a compliment due to how good it felt to them to receive one. I am not getting paid to do this. I am not required to do this. No one told me to do this. I have done this since I was a small child, and it has become a natural thing for me to do.
Do me a favor please; take a moment to not judge. Take time to be kind. Never assume. These three things are very hard for us all to do, but if we can all take a moment to remember them, they can be game changers. Life is too short, and unfortunately can be taken away from or or the ones we know, love and care about, at any given moment. Live each day to the fullest, tell the people that you love that you LOVE THEM, and try to not let all of the negatives of life get to you to a point that you ooze negativity. Be the tattoo artist. Do what makes you happy, find a way to have an outlet, and do something that shows others you are happy. Why? Because it is contagious. If you pretend to be happy, sometimes you actually BECOME happy yourself. Being happy will project happiness into others around you, even if you don't realize it. When you tell the lady working the cash register that you hope she has a great evening, she may get off work that night and have a great night because you said something kind to her. Oh, and buy a cookie from a cookier. It not only will make YOU happier, and those you possibly buy the cookies for, but it will support your local cookier, who is doing what makes them happy by creating edible happiness for others.