The other day, a comment was made by a friend-of-a-friend about another person that I know well. It was a comment that I've heard said about this person before, and though it has always bothered me, for some reason this time it really struck a nerve.
You know, that person is really nice, but she is sooo ugly!
Why did this comment rattle the cage?
Well, it's obviously an extremely mean thing to say about anyone, but even moreso, the person who made this comment didn't even know the person they just called ugly. In fact, they'd only met once or twice before.
How is it possible to judge someone with such extremity without really knowing them? It's something that I've never understood, but also something that I can't say I'm entirely innocent of. As humans we instinctively make judgments as we assess our surroundings.
My first judgement of the soon-to-be love of my life, my husband Mark, as he sat in the back corner of the room playing his guitar, sporting a little chin beard, and wearing skater clothes with a backwards cap. It was the very first time we officially met, and it was the briefest introduction known to mankind.
Jason (Mark's roommate), as we enter their house: "That's my roommate, Mark."
Mark, taking a brief pause from his jam session to look up and give a small nod/wave: "Hey."
Kelli, making her assessment and returning the small nod/wave: "Hey."
That was it. That was the first time I met my future husband. No bells and whistles, no fireworks, no love-at-first-sight miracle...
We were both 19 years old, and my first judgement was enough to tell me that he wasn't really the "type" of person to be in my social crowd. I was there to hang out with one of his roommates, and he was just a bystander.
Man, she's weird...
My husbands first impression of me the more my best friend and I would visit his house to hang out with his roommate.
How we finally broke the ice to overcome these judgements is beyond me, and it still fascinates me that two people who's first impressions of one another were less than spectacular, could be together through thick-and-thin nearly ten years later.
How did it happen? Well, we actually got to know one another...and when we did, Mark suddenly became much more than just the punk-rocker in the back of the room, and I turned out to be the coolest weirdo he'd ever known (my words, not his, ha!).
We became best friends...then we fell in love...then we broke each other's hearts...then we mended them...then we withstood the test of time.
It just goes to show what can happen when you actually get to know someone for who they truly are.
If the person who made this judgement actually knew the person they were criticizing, they would learn that self-image is something that she already struggles with. They would learn that deep inside she wonders if she's beautiful, and she's afraid of what people might think of her.
They would also learn that this person is beyond nice, she is a true giver. She cares about people, and like anyone else, she just wants to be accepted for who she is.
I wish that this person felt beautiful, confident and secure, but I know her well enough to know how much she questions about herself. Could it be that a world full of judgement is to blame for all of our self-doubt?
Going through this journey and writing about the insecurities I have for my own self-image has made me more sensitive to the struggles people face. It makes me wonder how I would react if the comment would have been this...
You know, she is really nice, but she is sooo fat!
And what if it would have been about me--playing into every fear and insecurity that I have about myself? How would it have made me feel? Would it have destroyed what little self-confidence I have in the way that I look?
I wish that we could all put ourselves into the shoes of others before we made rash judgements and insensitive comments about people. I wish that we could just stop judging people and actually take the time to get to know people instead. I wish that our instincts were to build people up, rather than tear people down.
Perhaps someday we can change...but for today, I hope everyone who reads this post will pledge to simply try. Try to lift people up, rather knock them down. Try to identify the things you like about someone before picking out their faults. Just try.