Nose, up. Foot, tapping. Smirk, timed appropriately to coincide with head tilt and shake. Camera out, photo evidence taken of current status of superiority, inferiority, personal masterpiece, or total train wreck.
Got that image in mind all nice and clear? Face recognizable perhaps? Possibly. . . super, super, super familiar with that profile?
Yes. I’m talking to you, the one wearing the judgy pants. I have a pair too. I wear them with my hypocrite hat. It’s like hipster attire, but slightly more pretentious.
Remember those things you were “never” going to do? They are adjacent to the list of things you were “always” going to do. You know, they things your parents did (or didn’t do) that you swore up and down you were NOT going to do, be, or say. Things you saw “other” adults doing and were just so righteously offended by their actions and indignantly declared as appalling. “How dare she. . .?” “I can’t believe he. . .” “how could she ever. . .”
The problem about those blanket generalizations, though, is they often come back to bite us in the ass, big time. We can thank more than Instagram for that lasting karmic evidence. Learning to not judge until we’ve walked in the other person’s shoes is a hard lesson. It’s easy to be the Monday night quarterback, it’s more difficult to complete the pass.
Beyond the face value judgement we place on the actions and life choices of others, there are whole host of limitations we place upon ourselves and our future behavior. We watch, learn and observe and our schema grows and shifts accordingly. Through its development we create value statements and expectations for ourselves, and for others, about what we think will happen. We anticipate how we will respond to events that have yet to occur, situations with which we have little to no experience, schema, or understanding (yet), and the universe simply laughs at us. If we are lucky, we will laugh with it.
There are a whole host of these exercises in empathetic advancement as we age; incredibly humbling moments that manifest as the shit and the fan have regular meetings in your adult life and you realize that what you thought you would say or do was actually not at all what happened. That your actual reality and the actions and responses you chose were quite different from what you had perceived they would be.
The view from this side of the field looks a little different. Now that you get it, you own it, you see it, you’re dealing with it, for real, right now, your priorities and choices have shifted. Oops. In the words of my favorite coach- that’s what you get for thinking.
If you are lucky enough to have a sense of humor, those moments turn out not to be simply recognizant, but frequently entertaning as well. Whether you find it comical in that particular moment or not is debatable. However at some point in time that disaster might be funny to you, and to others, although possibly weighted slightly in favor of the latter audience. It depends on just how comfortable you are with laughing at yourself.
Turns out, as your understanding increases, your fear and prudent discernment decrease in response. This is awesome. It is also hard to swallow, sometimes (okay, most times, fine- almost always). Like, it’s humble pie time, served in an all-you-can-eat buffet by the universe. Sidenote- It tastes like stinky feet, like the kind I regularly insert in my mouth. . .
In any case, I recommend you remove the layer of superiority you’re wearing and CTFD already. Life is hard; everyone is struggling with something you know nothing about. Be empathetic, not condescending. Give a hand, not a dirty look. And remember, it all comes full circle. Like traffic on the 405, no one leaves unscathed.
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