Years ago, I enlisted in the Navy when I was 19 years old and went through 8 weeks of Boot Camp in Orlando, Florida. What a very eye-opening experience this was! I was dropped in to survive under one roof (the barracks) with women from all over the United States of different ages, races, backgrounds, and marital status (single, married, divorced). Reflecting back on that experience, it wasn’t all the pushups, discipline, or the training officers humiliating and yelling at us that was such a life changing event. Yes, that was indeed challenging – but the biggest challenge was putting such a crazy, diverse group of women together under one roof – and expecting everyone to come out alive! I made some very great friendships with other “roommates” during this short but intense time. Most of these women had such different backgrounds from mine and were nothing like anyone I had ever been around before. I cherished some of those friendships, and the lessons I learned, for many years later.
There were lessons to be learned on “judging others”. Years ago, while I was a realtor, I met this couple to show them homes for sale. The husband, Bill, had long hair in a ponytail, and he was wearing a scruffy tee shirt. The wife, Jessie, was just a short, goofy but likable, gal. I just didn’t think they would be able to afford a home or be able to borrow the money for a mortgage from a bank but indeed they did, and I ended up selling them a lovely and quite large home. They were a delightful couple, and we ended up staying in touch years later. You see, I had “judged” Bill and Jessie by this first impression before I even knew them! Does this sound familiar? I think we all do a little of this.
We see the homeless person on the corner who is dirty and in raggedy attire… and the homeless lady that drags her rolling suitcase down the sidewalk muttering to herself…. Sometimes we think, “What did they do to get to this point?” I mean, why aren’t they working? Do you think that too? I am learning… sometimes after my own job losses and other circumstances…. Indeed, you never know what someone else is going through, or what they may already have experienced.
We see young people in their 20’s when they come through the door with tattoos all over their arms and legs and piercing everywhere, and we are indeed judging a book by its cover. We may wonder why these younger people don’t want to be with older folks!!! We judged them the MINUTE they stepped into the room! And they know it, too… they see it on our faces. As a young person, I know I also did this more than once looking at an older person… maybe you did too.
I worked with a gorgeous blonde gal years ago…. Right away women in the office didn’t like “Jill”. However, once we got to know Jill, she was surely the life of the party! Jill was hilarious especially when she told those good ol’ Southern stories from when she was growing up. And Jill was thoughtful and kind, fun, and exhilarating! We stayed friends years later.
And I, myself, am a rather “large” girl….. and often I can see the judgment in people’s eyes when they first meet me – especially if they are skinny chicks! I don’t think I have been planted on this earth to worry about what every person thinks of me or my appearance, especially based on my size!
You can’t always judge a book by its cover! I would rather try to remember (and this is the hardest part) to put myself in that person’s shoes. Maybe they are chubby, skinny, or goofy for all kinds of reasons – reasons we know nothing about.
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” (Henry David Thoreau)
So the next time I am ready to judge this young lady that has two piercings in her nose, purple spiked hair, and crazy unmatched socks, I am going to try to do my best not to judge her by my first impression! It takes all kinds, and all varieties of people to make the world go round!
More than likely, none of these thoughts or examples are going to stop any of us from our pre-judgment inclinations, but I hope my pondering this will slow me down so that I give everyone a well-deserved chance!
I must challenge myself – am I judging someone because I am scared… lonely… afraid of change? These judgments can hurt others…. as well as ourselves. It’s natural to “jump to conclusions”! We all do it … yet if we recognize that we are doing it, we can change it!
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” (Wayne Dyer)
“Judge tenderly, if you must. There is usually a side you have not heard, a story you know nothing about, and a battle waged that you are not having to fight.” (Traci Lea LaRussa)