The other night I was curled up with a cup of tea, listening to the Mumford and Sons Pandora station, and perusing Pinterest. I know there a lot of people who use Pinterest, and I know there are a lot of people who don’t, but seriously, if you ever need a little inspiration or words of wisdom about anything (and I do mean anything) you should really think about opening a new window (after you finish reading this, of course), and browsing the pages and pages of…stuff on that site.
Anyway, while going through the quotes page, I stumbled across a little gem that read, “Just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.” At first I read this quote, then kept scrolling, but about ten seconds later, I was scrolling back up, re-reading the seventeen or so words beautifully written by John Green (naturally).
Initially, a bunch of people rushed into my mind. People that I could easily show this quote to, and say, “you shouldn’t judge me.” But then, as I continued to stare at the quote, I started thinking about the people I’ve thought things about before actually knowing them. Judgment is part of everyday life, and even though we learn to “not judge a book by its cover” when we’re little, I’m pretty sure everyone eventually learns that is just an ideal. Honestly, we make presumptions about people within five minutes of knowing them. Actually, we make presumptions about people within five seconds of just seeing them. Just take a moment to think about the people who hadn’t even spoken to you, but that you had ‘all figured out’ right away. You may look at someone wearing expensive clothing, chatting on his or her iPhone, and think that he or she is a pretentious person that can’t possibly be compassionate. You may see someone who you deem unattractive, and assume he or she is just an idiot who doesn’t deserve your time. Sure, these are nasty assumptions, but human nature has a funny way of putting a dark spin on our immediate reactions to people.
People can say that they never judge people, and they’re the kindest being in the world besides Mother Teresa, but maybe those people just aren’t very vocal about their judgments because judgmental thoughts cross their mind at some point, some how, some way. The thoughts may not even be considered judgmental, maybe they seem more like ‘observations,’ but let’s get real; that’s just a culturally sensitive way of admitting to thinking judgmental things. While I admit that I judge people, and that it is wrong, I feel people probably think I judge others a lot more than I actually do. For years, I’ve battled what I call “the disinterested face syndrome.” With this ailment, I often come across aloof or disinterested in people, especially because I don’t really have a super inviting face. Usually, though, I am interested in people, I just take a while to warm up (maybe because I’m an introvert?).
Since I’m not the friendliest person right away—unless I’m completely alone and am forced to be outgoing—a lot of people assume I dislike them or just don’t care to get to know them. These assumptions are judgments, and they are things that people think about me, but aren’t how I actually am. It is a little ironic, though, because if I meet someone who is reserved or closed off toward me, I assume the same thing. Judgments exist in a vicious cycle, where people judge each other, one judgment gets vocalized, and the other person judges again even more harshly.
I’ve made silent judgments that have turned out to be completely untrue once I got to know someone, but that’s the thing: you have to try to get to know someone in order to be proven wrong. I’ve encountered a lot of people who make an assumption about someone, and then don’t care to get to know that person because they’ve already made up their mind. This isn’t fair, though, because people really should be more open minded, and have a desire to get to know new people. Everyone, including me, should aspire to live a life that is as close to judgment-free as possible. To borrow a quote from Sarah Dessen, the next time you meet someone, “Don’t think or judge, just listen.”
What are your thoughts on judgment? How can we become less judgmental?