For the year and a half that I’ve known him, one of my coworkers has always had a very distinctive beard. Then today I walked up to his office to deliver some mail to him and actually did a double take. He had shaved his beard over the weekend, ridding himself of his most distinctive feature, and suddenly it was like looking at a completely different person. He looked younger, thinner, and definitely nothing like the red-bearded man that I was expecting. Which just goes to show that sometimes people can still surprise you.
You get used to seeing people a certain way and expecting things to happen in the usual patterns. You get comfortable in what you’ve always known, in the routine, in the monotony. So when someone rips it away, shocks you with a shaved beard, new glasses, or a tattoo, sometimes you can’t help but laugh. You break out in a smile, feeling it break through the gray clouds of your rainy Monday morning. You cover it, trying to be polite, but know that they know, anyway. You understand that they probably planned for that, banked on it even. You decide that makes you like them more.
When I was in college there were over 120 girls in my sorority. Some of them were the typical sorority girls you might expect, blond hair, shopping addictions, and an obsession with fraternity boys, but others became my closest and my most nerdy friends. In a Barbie pink house (I kid you not), I found Doctor Who fans and people to go to the Avengers premier with. I found people willing to dress up in costume for the Hunger Games movie and play late night capture the flag with me on my birthday. I learned to see past what I saw with my eyes and look for the person underneath.
We are all only human. Friends and enemies alike have the ability to surprise us, shock us, and change us. We just have to be willing to embrace them for it.