I remember once hanging with a friend of mine (who I considered a friend, although I never quite knew if we perceived the relationship the same way). She was an actor, and was having a conversation with another friend about her craft and a role she was preparing for.
The friend whom she spoke with was a creative writer, and the rest of us were varying degrees of engineers and computer scientists. I thought their conversation was interesting and I wanted to join in. Before I could really say much, she reacted to my input with “You’re just an engineer. You know about nerd stuff.”
Fuck that hit me deep.
Like more than she’d ever know. I was categorized out of the conversation based on my degree. As if there wasn’t a chance that I could provide valid input to the conversation. As if my knowledge and her world couldn’t possibly connect. I absolutely didn’t show how I felt, but I felt dehumanized.
And to be honest, I wasn’t at all into the label. Studying sciences brought an internal pride, but saying I studied engineering felt like walking around campus with a sign that read “...and nothing else.”
I guess I’m saying all of this for a couple of reasons:
•Because of the hit my pride took. In my mind, I’m a creative. I was unsure of my status as a musician because of my technical background. I was insecure about where I belonged in this society and to this day I still can’t truly say I’ve figured it all out.
•Also there’s so many people I don’t know ? who wear hats I couldn’t think to think of. Who’s to say what you would or wouldn’t learn from hearing someone out? You didn’t let that timeline happen. You closed that conversation loop via prejudice.
Can we open this up? There are deeper conversations here that I don’t feel qualified to begin but would be happy to facilitate. I would love to know some of your thoughts!
Maybe part of that tiny interaction was a result of resentment toward the security that typically came with an engineering degree. The security that I was supposedly headed toward after getting out of school. Jokes because that insecurity still stuck around after I took the engineering job ?
I didn’t picture myself as the standard engineer - whatever that meant. I did well in school, sure, but I rarely (if at all) identified myself with my major. I was learning who I was, like any other student should be doing, but “engineer” was never what I lead at the dinner table with. In fact, many folks I meet these days are genuinely surprised to know that I studied engineering/worked a couple of STEM jobs.
I guess I’m saying all of this because there’s mad people I know who wear so many hats. Also there’s so many people I don’t know ? who wear hats I couldn’t think to think of. Who’s to say what you would or wouldn’t learn from hearing someone out? You didn’t let that timeline happen. You closed that conversation loop via prejudice.