Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

red-book

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viLaxu-uYlk

Sometime or another we’ve all been guilty of judging someone for one reason or another. It’s human nature to see something you don’t understand or makes you feel uncomfortable and to automatically read that as you not liking someone/something.

In the past I’ve seen someone across the street, they’ve been dressed in something I wouldn’t class as ‘normal’ and would then have a negative thought about them. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s happened a lot but it is something I’m looking to change about myself. The main reason is everyone’s ‘normal’ is different and so there is no such thing as a typical ‘normal’.

Different cultures have different norms, for example, arranged marriages are normal in a lot of Asian cultures, whilst in the western culture, I would say arranged marriages seems like a completely absurd idea, however in those countries where it happens regularly, it has been in their culture for years and years and therefore has been classed as a norm. In fact, those countries might look at places like the UK as being weird because we don’t usually practice that kind of thing.

The world has billions of people living on this earth, it’s only expected that we all follow by the beat of our own drums, one person’s weird is another person’s normal and there is no way of telling what can classify someone as weird, different yes but not weird.

I studied Psychology for 5 years and the one great thing I learned was that the term ‘normal’ classes everyone who follows by social norms that society has labeled us with, anyone who deviates from that would be classed as weird/abnormal and therefore to those who follow the norms, they would automatically be someone you want to stay away from. It doesn’t matter how nice they are or kind, society has ingrained in us that ‘abnormal’ behavior is to be avoided. That means your grandma who likes to collect trinkets and put it in her glass shelving unit, once upon a time this was a popular hobby, but now, society is telling us that is hoarding behavior and isn’t normal. She would be classed as abnormal, people may laugh but that isn’t a fair evaluation of a person does it? Not all behaviors can tell you everything you need to know about the quality a person is.

It’s not just behaviors that make people stand out, it’s also the way they talk, where they go, where they live, the kind of people they associate with and probably the most telling is the way they look, the way they dress. In modern society we have all sorts of labels for people, goth’s dressed in black clothes, resembling wizards with their long jackets, platform boots. Nerds, with glasses, long ties. Prep’s with their pleated skirts, polo shirts. Name an outfit and I can associate it with some kind of label that someone once upon a time made up and it somehow stuck. But that is what is so crazy about this world; labels have become so prominent in our society that we’ve all just accepted it into our daily life. During my teen years, I went through a phase of wearing black tank tops, mainly because they made me look like hips but also because the kind of tank tops I wore made my boobs look amazing, it was pure coincidence that they were all black, it’s just the choice of colours of this particular tank was just ugly colours and I felt like black was most flattering for my skin tone. It was also an unfortunate coincidence that I had only just discovered eyeliner, can you imagine what I looked like? One day I was walking through town and someone called me an ‘emo’ I had no idea what ‘emo’ meant so I googled it and as you would have it, I actually looked a little ‘emo’ because of that I started listening to ‘emo’ songs and actually believed that I was an ‘emo’. It didn’t affect me in a negative way but I feel like another kid somewhere, could have been feeling so good, thinking they looked amazing and for someone to comment on the way they look can be so damaging to a young self-esteem.

Another example of judging a book by it’s cover happened last year. I was the judger, I thought I’d tell you that now. Last year I attended a funeral, I’m not experienced in the whole funeral protocol, I’ve only been to one other one. Once the church service finished, we all got into a convoy of cards behind the car that housed our dearly departed. I was sat in the car right behind that car. As we drove past familiar places, we heard shouting. There were kids running around on the road we were about to turn off into. The kids were scruffy looking, and a man, probably their Dad who looked equally scruffy, accompanied them, in the UK we would call them ‘chavvy’ looking people. I remember turning my nose up at them thinking ‘my god how un-classy of them, they make this neighbor good look so rough.’ Almost as soon as I thought that, the Dad saw the funeral procession and signaled the kids to get off the road, he put his fingers up to his mouth and mouthed ‘shh’ the kids looked up at where he was looking, at our convey of cars. The kids stood beside their Dad on the side of the road, looked down at the ground, their Dad nodded to our cars put his hand to his heart in some kind of salute, his kids did the same thing and in silence they stood by as we passed. I turned in my seat to look back at them and they stayed that way until the convoy of cars had passed. Even as we passed they stayed silent as if deep in thought. I don’t know if that is protocol for when you see a funeral procession but I couldn’t help feel so comforted. To think that a few seconds ago these kids were running around screaming, there I was sat thinking that they were just rough and scruffy but really they had much more respect than I have seen from people in business suits. I had never been taught that and granted I myself have never seen a funeral procession before, I just thought, how nice and respectful of them to share our grief even for a few moments. How in those few seconds we were one in the same, grieving over the loss of a loved one, they shared that with us even if they were just strangers on a street. I wanted to take back my previous thoughts; I had no right to judge them based on what they were wearing, because the clothes on their back did not indicate the content of their heart.

I think about every time someone has been judged unfairly as if it was their fault that they have done/been something that was distasteful to another person, as if anyone has a right to comment on how someone is living their life.

As long as the person is happy and safe and isn’t hurting anyone, who are we to judge what he or she does in their life? Are we not also free to express ourselves in any way we see fit? Everyone in this world has the right to live their best life as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else in a negative and detrimental way, don’t they have a right and deserve to be happy too?

I always hear the saying; before you judge someone make sure you’re perfect. It’s so true, I think if we were more accepting of people the divide in this world wouldn’t be so prominent. I’ve gotten to know a lot of really good people all because I was open to the idea that everyone is different and therefore naturally they will differ in their opinions, beliefs, likes and dislikes. My partner and I couldn’t be any more different from each other, I would describe myself as being religious and he says he is an atheist, I am creative and free spirited, but he is very practical and by the plan kind of man, somehow it works between us, we’re a happy balance of good and bad, ups and downs.

The world is so vast and continues to improve and grow, the reason for this is because of all the different people. The world can’t run on only suits, ties, and ball gowns, businesses and millionaires don’t rule this world even if society will have us think so. We need bin collectors, train drivers, bankers, teachers and doctors amongst other things.

When it comes down to it we’re all human, the outside stuff, like our clothes, our behaviors, those are just ways to make us stand out a little more from others, without our extra layers we would just be mindless robots following with social norms but not truly living our best lives.

Next time you judge someone try to think about whether that opinion will help or hinder someone’s self-development. That person your judging is a stranger who holds your ability to change as a person, in their hands, we need to embrace our differences and once we do we will be able to accept others a lot more. We need to find happiness and acceptance in ourselves; we need to improve ourselves before trying to change anyone else.

Try to turn that judgment into something positive and instead of reprimanding someone for their weird choice of outfit applaud them for being brave.

Think love not hate.

Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!

Peace and Love

Jessy x

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