Many times in my life, I have been judged. Only wearing dresses and skirts made me too girly. Being overweight proved that i lacked self-control. Struggling socially shows that I only care about myself. Answering questions in class makes me the teacher’s pet while struggling to take tests makes me an idiot. Losing weight means that I am suddenly healthy.
All of these judgements, even positive ones, are hurtful. I am sure that you can relate. Everyone hates being judged.
But why then do we all do it? No of us are exempt from it. No matter how hard we try, preconceptions and labels are formed in our minds when we meet people.
One of the biggest goals I strive for is for advocacy and awareness. Part of this mission means helping support people, as well as those not struggling with a disorder of any sort, to sympathize instead of judging. No one can truly understand another person fully. However, we can attempt to care for them and realize their feelings, needs, and struggles.
Yet, I realized yesterday that I still can fall into the dangerous trap of judging others. Last year, I had a classmate who seemed to hate me. She criticized my work, scoffed at my advice, and seemed to tense whenever I entered the room. Confused, I tried to stay away from her. After all, nothing I did seemed good enough. What was the point of trying to form a relationship?
This semester, we are again in a class. Instead of being easier, our relationship became even more hostile. As she snapped at me, I ignored or questioned her. Even if I complimented her, she turned around with a bitter response. Everything that I did or said seemed wrong.
Then, she read several of my works and listened to me talk about my struggles with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. The very next class period, she turned to me with a different look in her eyes. Instead of annoyance or even pity, there was a glimmer of understanding and respect.
Since then, we have chatted friendly in and out of class about shared interests. She encourages and compliments me while I do the same for her. Having her judgement gone has released a great burden off of me.
Yesterday, however, my eyes were opened. After class, she mentioned off-hand her deep depression and anxiety. Suddenly, my heart froze. She struggled with some of the same illnesses as me? All of this time, we were more similar than different?
How could I, who have championed for those in dark places, have judged another person? Even while I hurt from her judgement, I judged her. She was never the whole problem in our relationship; I carried just as much of the blame.
In the past, I would have beat myself up over making such a thoughtless mistake. However, I am thankful for this whole situation. Yes, I messed up but I am willing to make things right. Not only have I found a new friend, I also learned a humbling lesson. Despite my best intentions, I will make mistakes and judge others. There is no need to punish myself for this. Instead I need to realize my error, change my point of view, and move forward with life.
So this is my challenge to support people, those struggling, and – most of all- myself. Keep trying not to judge others. Even when you feel judged, resist the temptation to label the other person as cruel, close-minded, stupid, etc. Instead, let us choose our acquaintances wisely while being sympathetic and kind to all.