I do not live a life free from judging people. I make snap assumptions all the time. I have the voice in my head (and too often spoken aloud) that says “I wouldn’t do that”.
What I have learnt about that voice is that everyone has it. We all see other behaviour as just that… “other”. Not the same as us. And things that aren’t the same as our things can take a bit longer to wrap our heads around. Lack of understanding generally leads to lack of empathy.
In a recent conversation I said “I wouldn’t do that…” and the person I was talking to said “that’s ok because we’re not discussing you”.
I’m now trying to take that extra second to change my “I wouldn’t do that” to “I wouldn’t do that and that’s ok because this isn’t about me”.
The flip side of this is realising and recognising that other people’s judgements of you do not matter. You’re never going to please everyone.
To paraphrase Elbert Hubbard: “To escape criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
You’ll be judged for being too fearful but also too fearless. You’ll be judged for jumping in at the deep end but also for wading in cautiously. For leaving a steady career and taking a business risk, but also for playing it too safe and not just quitting if you don’t like your job.
You’ll be judged for turning down the potential job of your life to follow love.
You’ll be judged for walking away from the potential love of your life to follow a dream job.
For eating too much cake. For eating too much kale.
Mothers, you’ll be judged for natural birth without medical aid, you’ll be judged if you get an epidural, a c-section, gaining baby weight, losing baby weight too fast, formula feeding, breastfeeding, letting them cry it out, for spoiling them. For going back to work and for not going back to work. Seriously you’re just gonna get judged left, right and centre. You may as well enjoy it.
Fathers, don’t worry, you won’t get left out. You’ll be judged for not setting an example of a man who provides for his family, but also for working too much and losing sight of what’s really important; for being too tough on them, for being too soft.
People without kids, you get to navigate the judgement minefield too. Perhaps you don’t want them, perhaps you do but can’t. Don’t worry, you’ll get judged for both of those, even if the factors at play are out of your control. Sometimes especially if they’re out of your control.
You’ll be judged for not wanting to get married, but also for wanting to. For taking your husband’s name. For taking your wife’s name. For keeping your own. For making one up.
In society at the moment it seems you get all sorts of judgement for keeping quiet and minding your own business, but also for talking too loudly and getting involved in things that don’t concern you.
None of this is new wisdom. You’ve heard it all before. I’m not professing to be a revolutionary with this. I only write this to say: please don’t sit on the fence, too scared worrying about what “they” think to start doing what you truly think is the best decision for you.
Actually, even if you’re not sure, don’t let the fear of the disapproving looks of others stop you from at least giving whatever it is your full consideration.