Before I get to the meat of this post, I want to first say that I don't think there's a single person on this earth that isn't guilty of judgement. Judging others. Casting judgement. It's almost as if our brains our hardwired to do so. And even though there are many people, myself included, who claim to not judge others...it happens.
My brain has done it. I, for the most part, let my brain make said judgement and then take a second to think. I can stand in front of someone and judge them, but one thing I know for sure is that I don't know their story...where they've come from, what they've been through. It's just a first glance that sends the thoughts to my brain.
Seeing that woman in the grocery store wearing the "shorty shorts" and thinking that she really shouldn't be wearing those out in public...she has self esteem issues and is screaming for attention.
The mother pushing a baby around that is in tattered and stained clothing, has a dirty face, and hair that is matted, while she wears clean clothes, has clean hair, and looks well maintained and groomed...she neglects her child.
The guy standing on the street corner with a sign begging for food or money...he needs to devote his time to finding a job.
The pregnant teenager... she should have been kept on a shorter leash, and taught better values by her parents.
The parents that never show up to parent/teacher conferences, family nights, or sporting events... they don't give a rat's behind about their child's school life.
And my list could go on and on and on.
Each one of those judgements I've cast myself. And there have been more. I use these examples today, because I've been fortunate to find out the error of my judgement...the true story of what's misconstrued in to my judgement.
That girl in the shorty shorts? She grew up as an obese child. She hated herself, hated who she was and what she looked like. In college, she finally found hope in a fitness group, lost over 100lbs, and wears those shorts with pride...because it goes against the person she grew up as. Her shorty shorts are now a badge of honor...she finally has the fit body to do so. And she doesn't care what other people think about her when she's in them.
That mother pushing around the dirty child? They had spent the day at the park. Her child had played in the creek and the mud. They had eaten ice-cream that dripped all over the place...getting in to the child's hair and on his clothes. They hadn't made it home for bath time, and were finishing out the day picking up treats for a movie night at home.
The guy standing on the street corner? He'd been laid off of his job three months ago. He had three children he was trying to support...and a wife that had an illness preventing her from working. He had spent three months in employment agencies and trying to find a job. On the weekends, he started out his day trying to gather enough money to provide a meal for his family...before hitting the streets once again on the hunt for employment.
The pregnant teenager? Raped. By a person close to the family. Instead of having an abortion, she had found parents that would take care of her baby after birth. Instead of ending the life of the child growing inside of her, and putting an end to her suffering...she decided to make a bad situation a blessing for people that had been trying to conceive for a decade.
The parents that never show up for anything? Only one parent living in the household, the other deceased. Mom was working two jobs to support her family, and taking time off from work to attend school events just wasn't an option. Because of the income generated from both jobs, she didn't qualify for any form of assistance..but both jobs barely brought in enough to support her family. Taking time off could mean not being able to afford a rent payment, or electric bill, or food on the plates of her children.
Sad, but very true.
And while my examples are extreme, they are the types of judgements that each and every one of us make at some point in our lives...and I was unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end of the judgement yesterday. Not near the level of the examples I provided, but not any less damaging to my mind...how it made me feel.
I decided to go out on my walk yesterday. And I had already decided that I was going to try jogging again. Throw in some intervals of jogging and walking, just to see how far I could go.
I walked up to the park, which is a mile away from my house. When I got there, I started my intervals... 30 seconds of jogging, one minute of walking. And I did it! I was able to go the first 30 seconds with no problem. I was so happy and proud of myself. I walked my one minute, and did another interval of 30 seconds jogging. Again, no trouble. Another minute came to an end, and another 30 second jog started.
By this time, I had reached the playground area of the park, and there were some teenagers hanging out. As I approached, I noticed one of the teens pointing at me, and the others in the group laughing. I held my ground, kept on jogging, and tried to ignore it. Then, the pointer decided to yell out "Earthquake!" as I ran by. I pulled one of my headphones out of my ear, and had planned on saying something.. but then another teen in the group yelled "Stop running, Fatty, you're making the whole ground shake!"
Tears instantly sprang to my eyes. My first reaction was to march right over there and give them a piece of my mind. But I didn't. I couldn't. My tears told me that they'd take it as weakness, and I didn't want to give them the satisfaction. I just put my headphones back in my ears, and even though it was time for my walk interval.. I took off running. To get away from them. I had to wipe tears from my cheek when I stopped running. And then I got angry. Really angry.
How dare those little punks say something like that about me. They didn't know me. They didn't know what I'd been through. They probably couldn't fathom the ecstatic feeling I had felt only minutes before when I was able to get through two intervals of jogging for 30 seconds, and how much it meant to me.
They just cast their judgement. Without knowing MY story.
Would it have made any difference if I had stopped? Would they have regretted their taunts if I had told them that almost 3 years ago I weighed 300lbs and could barely walk for 15 minutes, and that I had managed to lose enough weight to run 3 miles? Would they have apologized if I had told them that in the past month I've dropped 14lbs, after gaining a lot of the weight back and was starting the process over to be able to run again? Would they have understood the impact of their words if I had shared with them that I may be fat, but I'm working my behind off to change that..to be healthier for my kids, and alive to see them grow up?
Which is why I didn't bother.
But, I let those little twerps get inside my head. I let what they said bother me. And it affected the rest of my time out. I passed them one more time and again saw their laughter and the movement of their mouths as they were probably calling out more jeers. I made the decision after that to just head on home.
On the walk back home, instead of dwelling on what had just happened, I let this blog post surface in my head.
Who am I to give them a piece of my mind when I'm guilty for casting judgement myself?
It's not the first time I've been judged or made fun of...probably won't be the last. But, what I can take away from it is the pleasure of knowing that at least when judgmental thoughts pass in to my head, I can take a step back and remind myself that I don't know that person's story. I don't know what they've been though. And that I possess no room to pass ANY judgement, because my life is quite worthy of it's own false judgement.
By the time I made it back to my driveway, I had let all the anger and frustration go. I replaced it, once again, with joy and pride that I had done what I set out to do. OK, had the teens not been there, I probably would have done more.. but those few intervals were enough to tell me that I am ready to get back in to the running game again. Maybe even sooner than I thought.
And, those tears that had immediately sprang to my eyes had filled me with fire. Anger. Rage. But, rather than unleashing any of it on to some kids that have no idea of my story or my life, I decided to push it all down and refocus it. Use it for good. I am now more motivated than ever to get down to my goal weight, to get my running back, and be the fit person I've always dreamed of being.
My only hope is that one day, when I've done what I intend to do, I see those teens again. Their faces will probably be scarred in to my brain from here on out. I will use them to push me every minute I doubt myself, want to give up, or convince myself that I'm too tired to do what I planned on doing. So, that if we shall ever meet again... I can finally give them a taste of what their words did to me.
I will tell them who I am and where I came from. I will tell them the struggles I faced and the obstacles I overcame to get to where I am at that moment. I will tell them that one day, they will face that kind of judgement themselves...and will hopefully remember my story.
Will it make any difference? Who knows. But it will to me.
I am who I am because of the paths I chose to get me here. The paths I have still yet to take are of my own choosing.
My life has been no bed of roses. I've had to pick up the pieces many times over and start over...wipe the slate clean...make the decision to turn them around.
There have been paths that have led me right back to the beginning. Wrong turns here and there. But, I keep on down the paths looking for the right one. The one that leads to my goals. And I will never stop until I get there.
"Judge not, lest ye be judged"
And yesterday I got a taste of that medicine. And something for me to take with me on this journey.
Judge away, if you want, but until you've walked in my shoes you will never know my story...or where I came from...and you have no idea where I'm going.
All make me who I am, all motivate the person I want to become. And no words or actions of others will take that away from me. I am the commander of my vessel, and I'm taking this ship on a journey of success!
Till next time!