When I was five, my aunt introduced me to a list of virtues that 'good' girls were supposed to possess. In her mind, you were either good or bad. I never liked the concept and dismissed her archaic ideas as being absurd. Later, I realized how certain ideas and opinions are deeply ingrained in our cultures, families and circles. Women and girls are expected to behave, act and carry themselves in certain ways. Moreover, stereotypes and cognitive biases play a big role in distorting our views leading to widespread misconceptions and generalizations. When I was in medical college, I was target of negative comments because I chose to dress up in a way that was not expected of medical student. I never wore revealing clothes or a garment that could be deemed inappropriate. Yet, being fashionably forward somehow translated into lack of focus. I remember my class fellows and perfect strangers throwing a barrage of questions at me because I did not fit their version of 'medical student'. I wore makeup, short skirts and enjoyed getting ready every day. My style of dressing did not sit well with some students and faculty members. However, I chose to stick to my individual style and despite the negativity, scored good grades. My experiences helped me in understanding how to bridge the gap between perceptions and reality. Things are not always what they seem. Human beings think and feel in a certain way. The neurons in our brain fire together and create certain pathways that react to the stimuli. When a certain trigger is present , the neuronal pathways are activated so that past memory is used to make associations between the current stimulus and old experiences. Human beings are designed to respond to patterns and associations. This is a very significant quality from evolutionary point of view. The problem arises when we try to oversimplify things and start generalizing and categorizing people and events. When something unexpected shows up, we recoil and become confused. The mental dichotomy creates cognitive dissonance so that we find it difficult to make connection between stimulus and result. For instance, when someone with tattoos turns out to be a corporate head or a glamorous person turns out to be a scientist or an engineer our preconceived ideas make it difficult to reconcile with the idea that two seemingly desperate characteristics can co-exist. What strokes our neurons, it turns out, is actually good for us; somehow, something that bothers us, helps to push us out of our comfort zone and helps us to develop lateral thinking. When dichotomies challenge our cognitive capabilities, we start thinking out of the box and are forced to confront our distorted views of the world. If addressed creatively, the things that make us uncomfortable can be the hidden source of our growth and progress that open our minds to different possibilities. Next time before you judge someone, think twice!