I'm guilty of it as much as anyone: judging someone I really don't know. We see people on the street, on the internet, or in a magazine and make assumptions about their character. We decide we know how much money they make, their political beliefs, and even what they think about themselves. That last part is extra ironic, because get to know anyone well enough and you will discover:
- They have made mistakes
- They're improvising this life stuff just as much as you are, and:
- They don't always think magical, fluffy things about themselves. Sometimes they have sharp, choice words for their own subconscious. Sometimes they aren't sure of much. Sometimes they wish they were someone else.
I saw a comment on something I wrote a few days ago and my instinct was to think "god, they must be a really shitty person to sit and troll my work all day." But the truth is, maybe they're not. Maybe they're as complex as I am, and had a rough day, and took it out on something trivial like a blog post. Maybe they're sad, or, maybe not. I don't know. I've always been more of a defensive person than I'd like to admit, but I don't need to be. This person doesn't know me, and I truly don't know them.
In interviewing people over cocktails, I've learned that no one is really who you think they are. We contain so much more joy and sadness and regret and longing than any surface level interaction could ever reveal. The most joyful people can have a serious case of resting bitch face. The most scarred people you'll ever meet can come in petite, pristine packages. Sometimes, you don't fully know someone after 20 years; so you certainly don't know shit until you've at least had a scotch with them. Until you've at least seen that glimmer in their eye as they finish a glass and a story and you see their layers unfold and you hear them tell a dirty joke and admit they're not perfect and allude to leagues of lives they've lived prior to the one they're in now. That's where things get interesting.
I've stifled my own ability to live in this gray area by judging people before I've met them. I've done it countless times, and what energy does that create? The shitty kind. So, can we all do one another a favor? Can we try to be a little more compassionate? Can we try and be encouragers instead of critics? Can we reserve judgment until we've at least had a round with someone? Then, we can decide they're an asshole. Promise.