Judgment is just someone creating YOU inside of their head without your permission, without full knowledge of who YOU are. They’re making YOU. But they’re making you improperly. — Hank Green
So, we recently checked out a new restaurant here in Athens that also serves some vegan dishes – can I get a hallelujah for vegan options?! When we discover a new restaurant, we usually don’t hesitate for a long time and just go for it, but this time it took us months – if not an entire year – until we decided to finally give this one a try.
After making the decision a night before, I was lying in bed, scrolling through the restaurant’s reviews and was surprised by the high amount of bad ones I could find.
To be honest, reading through them was very discouraging and for a second or two we even considered not going at all, but finally decided to just go for it and find out for ourselves if we would come back or just stay far far away from it in the future.
Guess what happened?
We witnessed one flaw after the other. Almost every single thing the reviews were talking about came true. The waitress was not as friendly as we hoped, we wanted to order food that turned out not to be available, my cake was burnt, my boyfriend’s portion was extremely small, they served us a dish that they didn’t even try themselves before, as the waitress awkwardly admitted afterwards, and after some time even the cute looking chairs became a bit uncomfortable.
All stupid first world problems you say? Don’t judge just yet! I actually managed to learn something from the situation, otherwise I wouldn’t even tell you all of that.
The thing is, ALL of these things I listed above actually happened, but they didn’t really bother us and we might not even have recognized all of them if we wouldn’t have read the reviews beforehand. The food tasted absolutely great, the location was bright and very inspiring and we will definitely go there again!
Just recognizing all of the “flaws” in our visit there made me understand something that we as humans do on a daily basis and which I also had to suffer from for a long long time in my life:
We let others tell us if we like somebody/something or not and prejudge without even trying to find out more about the person or whatever “thing” we’re talking about here.
While this might still make a lot more sense when it comes to restaurant reviews, it gets problematic very quickly as soon as people are involved. If a person doesn’t get a chance to prove himself or herself and instead is just pigeonholed by others, it gets personal, it can hurt and even lead to self-destruction.
My own experience
Unfortunately I only know too well what I’m talking about here, because I was misunderstood and therefore treated badly on a daily basis when I was younger.
In my school years, several people were somehow upset about my weight. It was obvious that I carried around way too much weight for my age, but that doesn’t keep immature teens from pointing it out whenever they can. So yeah, you could say I had a bunch of enemies without ever even talking a word to them…
Of course it didn’t stop there, it lead to others hating me as well. Why? – Well THEY say you’re fat and don’t want anything to do with you silly, that’s why. It’s just the logical consequence right?
There were exceptions of course and I’m truly grateful for that, but many many other people never gave me a chance and all they ever saw was that ugly fat little girl that wore strange clothes and sometimes behaved weird. What they didn’t know – but could have found out easily if they would have given it a try – is, that my behaviour was just some kind of defense mechanism. I was constantly trying to avoid trouble, unnecessary eye-contact, people looking at my body or making mistakes while talking in front of the entire class.
The funny thing is: This in return made me have prejudices towards others as well! There we have it! You thought I will come out of this story as the shiny hero who finally lost that weight and learned from her sufferings right? Unfortunately I have to disappoint you, because this behaviour is extremely contagious.
For example, I believe I know what that “typical bully” looks like and as soon as I see somebody that fits into that mould, I have aversions towards that person. At school I was taught “the signs of what a true bully is like” and as soon as I see somebody having only the slightest tendencies of that I will put my stamp on them. Bad bad bully!
The only light at the end of the tunnel I see for myself is that I actually realize what I’m doing wrong and that is the first step for change, even though it might be extremely hard in the end.
Find out the truth for yourself
If we truly want to get to know somebody, we have to find out the truth for ourselves. Others will always just “paint a picture” of the personality of another human being based on their experiences with that person and millions of other experiences that they had in their lives so far. Just like me: I had bad experiences myself years ago and now there’s a certain category of people that cannot easily escape my judgement.
So don’t listen to other people’s opinions when it’s about another person that you’re about to interact with soon. We have to be open for new things and other people in our lives and we should never forget that everybody makes mistakes now and then, just like the restaurant or me, when I was “behaving weird” in order to protect myself.
Instead of marking that person down, you could think about why this person is behaving in a certain way. Maybe he or she just wants to avoid making mistakes so bad that all the attempts backfire in the end? Maybe that person feels extremely insecure or just needs more time to unbend?
Whatever it is, all people deserve a chance to prove themselves and yes, in the end this might also apply to restaurants, books and other – less important – stuff, just don’t be so strict about it there. 😉
Pay attention to not just blindly believe the opinion of another person. Believe in your own power of judgement, go that extra step and really get to know that misunderstood human being that most probably doesn’t want anything else than you in life: To be loved, to live in peace, to be happy and to simply get a chance.