If you are human (and I am guessing you are if you are reading this post) then at some point in your life you have most likely been judged by others. This can be such a hard experience – feeling labelled and trapped and stereotyped by people who may not even truly know you. It can be infuriating, it can be frustrating, it can be heartbreaking.
As I work with middle school students, I think about labels a lot. I find it so sad that one child may make a mistake and carry the shame of the mistake (thanks to their insensitive peers) for years to come. I often believe that these tweens learn their behavior from their parents. When they watch their parent try to bully their teacher into giving them a better grade (even though they didn’t complete half the work) is it any wonder why they would then turn on their peers and bully them into complying with their random requests?
One of the things that has quickly turned me to tears throughout my life is being falsely accused or misunderstood. When I moved into educational leadership I had to toughen up. I learned the hard way that many parents had preconceived notions of who I was because of the title I held. They loved me, hated me, admired me, were intimidated by me – and yet I treated each parent the same – their personal experiences molded me into the person they needed me to be in their head – for good, and for bad.
I am finding that, more often than not, when people judge you it is more about them judging themselves. It is their issue, not your issue. It is often hard to move away from judgement, you want to prove the person wrong – yet, sometimes it is better to walk away and have faith and hope that one day the truth will indeed emerge – that incidents from long ago will be forgotten, and that you can forge a new path and allow people to gain new perspectives on who you are.
Today, 168 days ’til 40, I will remind myself that even in the midst of horrific judgement, it is possible for me to make a fresh start.