I remember the week before I started art school. At age 16, I had just moved into the dormitory where I would live Monday through Friday, and then go home for the weekends. I soon made a few friends. The art school was no different than other schools in the way that students quickly clustered into cliques. There were also some outcasts, about whom, assumptions were made. One of them was a guy named Rikk.
Alright, that was the first problem.
He spelled his name with 2 Ks which came off as trying too hard to be cool or unique. It seemed fake. So people called him Rik-k-k-k-k. Apparently, he also liked the ladies, but the ladies thought he was a little creepy. They all told me so. He was clingy. He also had a mullet long after they went out of style. There were so many things that one could say about Rikk—and they did.
Unfortunately, I was soon saying them, too. I believed all the gossip. So when he approached me one day, I quickly and harshly shut him down. As I returned to my dorm room, my smugness turned to shame. I was really mean to him and I didn’t even know him. I just make assumptions based on things other people had been saying. That feeling wouldn’t go away until I made it right. The next day, I sought him out.
I needed to challenge my assumptions, head-on.
It was difficult to swallow that humble pie, bite by bite, but it was worth it. I told Rikk I was sorry; that I wasn’t normally the kind of person who would treat someone that way. I should have gotten to know him rather than making assumptions about him. I asked him if he would forgive me. He did and we became fast friends. In fact, he became one of the best friends I had during my 2 years there.
Years later, I got a phone call.
Rikk was living up in northern Minnesota. He’d had a severe brain injury and was trying to piece his life back together. He struggled to recall a lot of his life but he remembered me. He drove all the way to my parents’ house to see me. They gave him my number. I was glad that I questioned my assumptions when we first met. I think if there was more of that in the world, we wouldn’t have near the divisiveness that we have now. But it can start with us each, individually.
The A to Z Blogging Challenge
I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ideas for “Thinking Creatively.” I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will focus on “Avoiding Burnout.” I hope you’ll visit me on both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is A is for Assumptions.
You may wonder what challenging your assumptions has to do with thinking creatively. In order to gain real insight and inspiration, it’s essential to be willing to question your assumptions, so you don’t miss out on a possibility that you might otherwise dismiss.
Think about a challenge you’re facing.
- What assumptions are you making?
- Make a list and challenge each one of them.
- Do they really hold true?
- What new light can you let in?
What Are YOUR Thoughts?
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I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:
I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.