Uneducated or Just Ignorant?
When I was in high school, as I’ve share with you all before, I went through thyroid cancer. I was entering my sophomore year when I had to be home schooled for a while so that I could focus on getting better. I’ll spare you the details of what my whole cancer experience was so let me fast forward to the part where I got back to school and the real problems began. When I got back to school, almost every person that saw me asked me “where have you been!” as if they had no idea I was sick with cancer. That really confused me and hurt my feelings because I knew for a fact that people knew. So why were people acting as if they didn’t know about my situation? For the first few days I remember just telling people honestly and calmly "I got diagnosed with thyroid cancer this summer and I just had my surgery and treatments”. After a few days of the same question over and over again I reached my limit and lost my cool when this girl (who was actually one of my good friends and neighbors) came up to me. I ran into her at our Blockbuster and she couldn't really avoid me so she pretended to be happy to see me and asked me where I had been / what I had been up to. I responded with “I had cancer, remember I told you when we were getting frozen yogurt? And you said you’d come bake me cookies but you never did? Well I’m doing OK now thanks”. At the time it was kind of out of character for me to be so direct with someone, I guess because I never really needed to be until then.
Another instance upon my return from being homeschooled was when a guy in my class asked me during lunch one day, “Is it true you had cancer?” which didn’t really bother me because it seemed very innocent. I told him yes that’s why I wasn’t in school for the semester. Then he replied, “Oh it’s because xxx said you just faked it.” To be honest I didn’t make a deal of it- until I went home and started crying. It infuriated me that someone in my class would think I just made up having cancer. I kept going back and forth in my head on what was bothering me. I’d think well those kids didn’t have the experience I had with cancer growing up (because my mom had been through it so I felt like I knew was was appropriate or not). Then I thought they were just not as mature as I was, then I thought maybe he was just genuinely curious because someone had misinformed him. The kid was 16 years old, shouldn’t he have known better?
Moving on to many many years after high school to a bar in Los Angeles where I was rocking my sexy new leather boots, my snakeskin jacket, my makeup was on point and my hair was looking cute in it’s little pixie form. I met some people that seemed really cool and totally my vibe. When they got my Instagram they read the part in my bio that says I’m a cancer survivor. One of the girls then goes “OH MY GOD that’s amazing!! So that’s why you have short hair?! Wow that’s incredible it looks so good on you!”. Now, 2019 Isabella is a very different person than 2009 Isabella. The main difference is that now I don’t get mad (at least not initially) with people who say sh*t like that. It's because I do believe that there’s a difference between being uneducated and being ignorant. I took this moment to educate this girl on the comment / assumption she just made. I told her “Well no actually I had cancer 10 years ago, and I didn’t even go through chemotherapy so I didn’t lose my hair. This haircut is kind of recent but thank you for acknowledging how cute it is.” Whether or not she felt bad I’m not sure, but I felt better taking a minute to correct and educate her rather than take her comment as an insult and let it ruin my night.
Now for a moment of real ignorance: that time someone asked if my family had come to the US legally or if they had crossed the dessert. Yes, that guy was incredibly drunk and probably intoxicated by something else judging off his looks but I had no patience for that question. It took me no time to respond with a snarky comment, I think I said something along the lines of “Why don’t you tell me who let you into this place with that sorry excuse of a mustache you have on your face”. It was a little extra but I couldn’t help myself! And neither should any of you! #speakup
I’m hoping that from the few stories I told you, you can spot the difference between someone being genuinely unaware of something, and when someone chooses to not be well informed. Patience and understanding are vital to living a easy-going life just know that they both have a limit. We can’t let other people's comments or actions get the better of us. Any time someone makes you upset or maybe uncomfortable with their comments, take a second to adjust yourself and then respond with what you feel will represent yourself the best. It’s not always about taking the high road it’s more about seeing where the other person is coming from. The more you can educate someone the better for us all- but at the end of the day fixing ignorance is one of the most difficult things to do. You choose how you want to spend your time! #timetovivir