I’m not saying it’s okay to hate anyone. I’m not saying it’s alright to use derogatory names, ignore someone because they’re wearing a tshirt you don’t like, or assume you know someone you’ve never met because they own a certain kind of car.
But we are human and we can’t NOT see the evidence of who people are right in front of us.
If I got a tattoo of butterflies on my ankle you’d probably think I’m okay with tattoos and also that I like butterflies. If you heard me swear you would assume I find that kind of language acceptable. If I wore a t-shirt that said “I hope your day is as nice as my butt” you would probably assume I’m confident with myself and that I don’t mind getting a little more attention. If I told you I enjoyed painting and knitting you might assume I am a bit creative. If I told you I did a little mechanic work you might assume you could ask me if I’d be willing to do work on your car at some point. If I posted a meme to my Facebook that mocked conservative ideals then you might assume I’m more liberal.
All of these things are perfectly acceptable assumptions. And that’s ALL they are: assumptions. Maybe I hate butterflies and I had to get the tattoo on a dare? What if I’m secretly not confident with myself at all but think that wearing that shirt will help me feel better about myself? What if I’m actually terrible at painting and knitting so I’m not really creative at all, I just enjoy those activities? What if I’m actually conservative but I thought the meme was hilarious even though it went against my ideals in some way?
If you talk to me, I’d tell you the truth. But if I don’t come out and say things plainly then you have to rely on your own intuition and judgement. *Gasp* JUDGEMENT???
Google’s definition of “Judge” in the context I’m talking about is to “form an opinion or conclusion about.” Doesn’t sound so bad, right? I think, like many words, it’s misused a lot. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you have probably already formed opinions about me. Technically, you’ve judged me. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Some people say “Don’t judge me” or “Who are you to judge me?” and honestly, the ones I hear saying that the most and the loudest are those who aren’t living the most healthy lifestyles. You know the people I’m talking about and you already know the people who are the exceptions to the generalization. They’re making choices they KNOW have negative repercussions then they say that anyone who disagrees is ‘judging’ them.
Let’s get this straight, disagreement is not judgement. Judgement is me forming an opinion about your character based on your behavior and/or dress. But that’s not a negative thing at all. It’s necessary. Parents make judgements about who to let their children be around. If they’ve seen evidence that you’re not a good influence then yeah, they’re judging you. They’ve formed an opinion about you.
The problems come when you form an opinion based on incomplete or incorrect information. THEN it becomes something of a negative. Making judgements is fine but we can’t let a single interaction shape our entire opinion about someone. We all deserve the benefit of the doubt and a second chance.
We also need to let our judgements and opinions grow. Too often I hear someone talking about a person they haven’t had contact with in 4+ years. Sometimes people change and sometimes they don’t. We have to be willing to let our opinions change as new evidence is given to us.
I remember very few first impressions but I do remember meeting my friend, we’ll call her Gillian. I didn’t like her. I didn’t get her jokes and honestly I wished she would lose interest in the club we’d met at and never show up again. I ended up spending more time with her as we participated in club and I started to like her. There wasn’t a moment where I just stopped disliking her, I simply grew to like her. If I had chosen to stick with that first impression and let it taint all our interactions with negativity I never would have become friends with her and I would’ve missed out on knowing a great person.
We all form opinions and make judgements. That’s okay. Just keep them realistically in check and be willing to change them as we all learn and grow together!