Stereotypes. We all encounter them every day; from strangers we pass on the street, from clients we see in the clinic, from colleagues at work. Most of us don’t think of being stereotyped by our family, but even within our own homes, stereotypes flourish. We’re the pretty one or the smart one, the funny one or the straight-laced one, the disciplinarian or the “cool” parent. We all have roles in our families.

Growing up, I was the lazy one. I wasn’t really lazy… not by most people’s standards – I don’t think. But I had certain traits that could give one that impression. I was a slob. The floor of my room was always covered in discarded clothing, I’d leave my makeup smeared on the bathroom counter, and homework and papers were strewn all over my desk. My attempts at getting my life organized were chronicled in the empty pages of dozens of planners – used for a week before they were forgotten about and discarded. I wasn’t super social, so I’d spend a lot of time watching TV and whiling away the hours on the internet (to be fair, everything took a long time on the internet in the days of AOL and dial up modems). And, I was forgetful, always so busy daydreaming I couldn’t remember where I’d left my keys or my wallet, or my U.S. History textbook.

But there was more to me than that. I was also an honor roll student, member of the student government, cross country runner, all-county shot-putter, and part time Home Goods employee. You’d think that would be enough to prove my work ethic, but still the stereotype persisted.

Recently, after having issues with my health insurance, my parents started calling me multiple times a day, checking up and pestering me to follow up with the insurance company. “You’re awfully persistent,” I grumbled to my father, fed up with being helicopter parented as a 36-year-old doctor.

“Yes, just like you need to be,” he replied. And in that moment, I realized I still hadn’t outgrown my lazy image. My parents didn’t trust me to follow through on my own affairs. I’m not sure what part of getting into and graduating from vet school, completing several half marathons and one full marathon, being a published writer and starting my own veterinary brand made them think I lacked the persistence to follow through on something as important as my health, but despite it all, the stereotype won out.

But when I stop and think about it, I realize, maybe that’s okay. I mean, stereotypes suck, but there is a kernel of truth in there. In some ways, I was – and still am – lazy. And maybe being “lazy” isn’t all that bad. I didn’t get where I am today despite my so-called “laziness,” I truly believe I got here because of it.

I didn’t waste my time on things that didn’t matter. I still don’t. It’s a rare day in my life where my bed gets made. I often leave dirty dishes in the sink (and no, I don’t have ants). I don’t bother sorting junk mail and my books are not arranged in alphabetical order. And all that extra time I save not worrying about the little things give me the time I need to devote to the things that matter to me without getting burned out.

And yes, I still spend an inordinate amount of time lost in my own thoughts, and yeah, that leads to a lot of time spent searching for my cellphone, but studies are increasingly showing that this can be the marker of a creative mind. Time spent daydreaming about the future instead of worrying about the past, helps me come up with ideas for blogs, and set big goals for myself. Searching for things in a mess helps me stay creative by forcing my mind to think outside the box.

Watching TV and reading, especially fiction, isn’t just a way to destress and recharge, and it’s not just wasting time. Engaging in fictional worlds has been shown to increase empathy which helps me be a more effective veterinarian and writer.

So maybe I am a little lazy. Maybe I am a bit scatter brained. Maybe I’m a disorganized mess. And maybe, just maybe, we could all benefit from being a little lazier and less organized too.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Smith is a 2008 graduate of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.  She completed her clinical rotation at Cornell University before returning to Long Island to enter general small animal practice.  Dr. Smith is a pet mom to a blue-eyed poodle mix named Frankie and a very needy cat named Charlie. She is also an aunt to a smart, funny, strong-willed niece.
 
Dr. Smith is the creator of The Vetitude; a website and social media presence that promotes empathy, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence in veterinary medicine. You can find out more at thevetitude.com

 

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