I always thought I wasn’t the type to judge someone before I knew them. That’s why I waited until I spent a little time with people to file them into a category in my head: studious, bossy, stuck-up, nice, etc. Once they were in a category, they never really left it unless something drastic happened. This system of categorizing acquaintances was pretty effective until it all got proved wrong. It was pretty effective until my trip to Philadelphia.
Some fellow yearbook staff members and I traveled to Philadelphia for a journalism conference last November. There were seven of us, plus our adviser. Naturally, I had already met these girls, so they had already went through my foolproof classification process. There was Emily, bossy, Kateland, stuck-up, Katherine, studious, Claire, boring, Laura, crazy and rude, and Allison, my best friend (friends didn’t really get put into separate categories, they just all got filed under simply “friends”). I thought I had them all figured out, and this trip would be simply Allison and I hanging out, occasionally learning something about journalism or the city of Philadelphia. However, by the end of the trip, I learned a lot past how to use the toolbar in InDesign CS2 (the program used to design our yearbook) and the fact that the archway in Chinatown doesn’t have a single screw or nail in it (it was simply constructed by fitting the pieces together, an incredible sight to see if you ever get the chance to see the city).
The first day of the conference, we went to a series of seminars. It started in an auditorium and ended on a dance floor. At the end of each day, the conference sets up the hotel ballroom for a mixer. We all dressed up in each other’s rooms, sharing necklaces and shoes, and then hit the floor. We all danced together, occasionally getting an invite from a guy, giggling at each other if he was cute, saving each other with a “let’s go get a drink” if he wasn’t. After the mixer, we returned to our rooms, our adviser telling us to stay there and go to sleep. Naturally, as soon as she was gone, the other girls came over to our room. We stayed up half the night gossiping about boys, music, yearbook, school, and anything else that came up.
During that gossiping, my whole system came crashing to the ground. That’s when I learned that Emily’s parents, like mine, are divorced, and we were both going through some of the same issues. I learned that Kateland is extremely religious, and her values are stronger than most people I know. Katherine is a born leader. Whenever we were lost or didn’t remember what time an event was happening, we naturally looked to Katherine, and she always had the answer. Claire is one of the most fantastic writers I have ever had the privilege to meet, and now I look forward to her column in our school’s monthly newspaper with excitement. Laura is incredibly funny and can lighten the mood of anyone around her; that trick came in handy quite a few times when dealing with our adviser. Finally, I learned that I was a really bad judge of character. I had based everything I thought about these girls around my first impression. By the end of that trip, I had completely abolished the categories and looked at them all as people. As friends. I will never forget that trip to Philadelphia not because of what I learned about journalism, but because of what I learned about friendship.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.