Every time we walk out our doors to experience what this world has in store for us and to live our life as we see fit, we put ourselves in situations to be judged. We all do it to varying degrees, whether it’s the girl that walks by dressed up provocatively or the guy who didn’t hold the door for you as you walked behind him. We judge them both negatively on the individuals we perceive them to be based on the few seconds of interaction. Now would you say that’s fair? No, it definitely isn’t, because what we tend to do in those situations is judge purely from our emotions instead of thinking logically.
When you look at the situation through emotion, the girl instantly becomes a trashy girl and the guy an ass, but when you look at it logically based on that short time frame, the only thing you can really deduce from those interactions is the guy was most likely in a hurry or didn’t even realize you were directly behind him and the girl’s idea of provocative is clearly different then what yours might be. Now how can you really judge a person’s character when you remove the emotions and look at it through logic.
Whether we are being judged or doing the judging ourselves, we as human beings always react first with emotion and create a storyline or try and put a face to a story based on that emotion we feel in that instance, but the truth is not that simple, when we step back and remove emotion we can see better what the reality of a situation is. It’s always simpler to judge a situation through our emotions because it’s easier to look at it through our lives and what we would have done. I would have held the door for that guy, and I am a good person, therefore, that guy must be an ass. But what we never consider is we ultimately know nothing about that guy and where his head is at, at the point in time.
To really understand what I mean let’s look at a personal situation of mine through both emotion and logic, and how perception can easily be tainted by our emotions; years ago, I came across a Facebook profile of a woman that I shared a similar background to, out of curiosity and mainly in jest being I never really cared if I received a response or not, I reached out. Never giving the message a thought, the years would roll by to the beginning of this year (2017) where I would pivot my life from the hustle and bustle of the corporate world to pursue some of the many ideas I had. Around the same time, I would come to realize that the girl I once messaged was the same girl I saw regularly at the local gym all these years who would often look at me like she knew me. Embarrassed that it took me this long to realize who she was and noticing at the same time she had a boyfriend I thought it best to leave things as they were.
Being the curious and investigative soul that I am, I researched or stalked (whatever you prefer) the type of person she was, but the only thing I really got out of it was that she had a brother that not only shared the common background but other commonalities as well. My initial inclination, which was purely coming from intrigue was to reach out, but ultimately, I decided against it due to the perception they might make of it. We all have moments where curiosity and intrigue into a situation make us want to learn more, but sometimes things are just better left alone when you look beyond the emotion and at the possible perception.
Through the spring, summer, and into the fall I rarely ever saw her and the situation fell under the context of “out of sight out of mind”. Well, that all changed after I inadvertently friended one of their relatives which put me in a light I never dreamed could ever happen. When I realized what I did weeks later, and having a general understanding of the background we share and possible perception of my mistake, I found myself in a corner where the only way out was to do the one thing I never cared to do, I would have to reach out to explain what happened. Embarrassed, I could have just hidden and altered my routine in hopes of never running into them, but that just isn’t me.
So, I went ahead and did the unthinkable and reached out to apologize, unexpectedly I never received a message back as I had hoped to put an end to the situation. Emotions running high, my first thoughts were maybe they never received or noticed the message, but through some deductive reasoning and Google, I quickly realized otherwise. As the emotions wore off, and I actually thought about it I came to the conclusion, that not replying in itself is a message, maybe in a more immature way but none the less it said to me “we don’t care”, so I did the only logical thing I could and assume the issue is in the past and things would go back to normal, looking at each other for what we are, strangers.
Quickly it became apparent that they thought more of the situation then I assumed. On several occasions, I would see the boyfriend walk in then out of the gym after noticing me, and on one occasion with the girl. In truth, more than anything that made me laugh and realize just how different two parties can react to one mistake. A message that I believed should have closed the door on an issue made them feel that they had to avoid running into me.
The most recent moment in time where I had to confront my situation was this past weekend when I was walking my dog and enjoying the weather. Subconsciously feeling like I was being stared at, I turned my gaze across the street only to notice her turning towards me laughing as her friends laughed and made comments my way. Now God only knows what was said, but the only assumption that could be made after the previous encounters was that in all likelihood it was negative. I had found myself being judged by a group of individuals unfairly, and the only thing I could think at that moment is exactly how many people has she portrayed me in a negative light too? In all likelihood, more than the amount I saw in the streets that day, and most likely some that I probably pass every day.
Other than being careful when using social media, what else can we deduce from my story? How parties can judge the same situation so different based on emotion and logic, and how perception can alter our thinking. Throughout the entire situation, I had emotional moments of embarrassment, dread, happiness, and anger. Embarrassment when I finally realized who she was, and dread on top of that when I mistakenly sent out that friend request. I felt happy and enjoyed a laugh when I realized they were avoiding running into me and anger when I saw her and her friends having a laugh at what was most likely at my expense.
With all of that, why wouldn’t you just run from the situation? Because running accomplishes nothing but creating anxieties that could easily be resolved. When I caught my mistake of friending the relative and understanding the possible perception of the situation, I owned up to it and allowed for an opportunity for both parties to move forward, and that’s all you can really do in situations when people choose to judge you. The minute you allow the circumstances and the judgment of others within a small moment in life to overtake you is the moment where you stop being you. If you believe in the person you have become and the characteristics that make up your individuality why change based on what others might think, especially strangers.
Looking at the events and how they unfolded, I can sit here and assume that these individuals are immature, the girl is controlling with a narcissistic personality and the two men are extremely passive aggressive, but then I would be judging them on limited information derived from a handful of events that lasted no more than a few seconds to a minute each. I can sit here and perceive what might be based on random occurrences, but the truth and logic tell me I really don’t know. The fact is she might actually have never recognized me, the brother probably never read the message, they left the gym because they forgot something, and what looked like people laughing at my expense could have just been me walking into their line of sight at the exact time a joke was told. Logically, how can I judge them negatively when I really have conjecture and emotion to work with. For all I know they might be awesome people.
We can’t help but judge with our emotions first in every situation we find ourselves, but the key is not to react to those emotions. Take a step back, gather what information you have and look at it not necessarily from just what you would do or think, but rather what others might. Based on my story, I was wrong on most occasions just as the other party involved was as well, but the difference is I removed my emotions and moved on by understanding that ultimately these people are like strangers on the street, they can judge and assume all they want, but at the end of the day what they do or think really has no reflection on my character or the person I actually am. So when you find yourself judging others around you just remember, “ We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others”.