It is a truth universally acknowledged that we judge what we don’t understand, with apologies to Jane Austin for ruining her famous opening line. I’ve used “we” instead of “people” because I’m guilty of judging others as well. Aren’t we all? Ooops, I think I’ve just been so judgmental. WELL, let’s say that everyone is judgmental for the time being for the sake of writing this article.
If you think about it, it takes seconds to judge and years to understand. Do we really have all that time to evaluate the vast experiences of others? Of course, not. So, we end up doing the easiest thing. We judge. We agreed that we judge what we don’t understand and so what would be harder to understand than introverts who sit silently with an aura of mystery about them, leaving people to make guesses about their personality, while taking no efforts to clear the mystery. Also, introverts have a different approach to socializing. As an introvert, I’m not a super socializer. For those who don’t understand, you’re rude, aloof, or simply with an empty head and no thoughts, whatsoever. If you don’t speak much, people would always assume you have absolutely nothing to say or you’re boring. I’ve often heard “you must be this – you must be that” and I’m left wondering how that can’t be farther from the truth. And it always hurts when people are making wrong assumptions about me.
I once came off as rude simply because I was having a really bad day. I remember I cried so much on that day (I never cry in front of others). I adamantly refused to have lunch with my colleagues who didn’t know me much by then and didn’t know I was sad. I overheard them, saying: “Oh my God, She is so rude.” Misunderstanding was resolved later and we became friends. The problem with judgement is that sometimes, people will keep that idea (the wrong idea) about you forever.
Being judged and/or judging others have never really annoyed me except recently. Sometimes, we go about life without having a chance to notice what is going on around us. When you pause, things fall into perspective. It was around that time when I wasn’t working that I began to notice more, read more, and understand a little bit more. At that time, I made some debatable choices that were, let’s say, unique or not within the set path that we are all expected to follow. I was unemployed by choice, and consequently judged fiercely for that decision. During that time, I heard a lot of guesses about why I was unemployed, my little misunderstood choice. No one really understood why I was unemployed for a while by choice, so they started making all sorts of assumptions about me (lazy, irresponsible, stupid, spoilt, etc.)
It was only at that time that I started to notice how we can be judgmental. Being judged wasn’t fun. It felt like I was under fire for a crime I didn’t commit. I realized that we do judge others all the times but we just don’t like to be judged ourselves. We’re furious that we’re misunderstood and labelled, with our whole experience summed up in a few words that don’t explain anything about us. Assumptions hurt. Most people judge us in silence. That is why it’s not such a big problem. It’s only those who are not so vague about it that can give us a real headache. You must be so and so. They say. Those are the ones who let us know how the world really sees us. It’s those who let us feel how misunderstood we are. It’s those who confirm that there is so much to us that the world doesn’t see or understand.
Do you explain yourself or do you let them drown in their misconceptions? Explaining yourself is time-consuming. And even if you try to explain, you cannot really control others’ thoughts. People judge what they don’t understand according to what they do understand.
So what do you do? If you take a step back and think about why you’re judged and your explanation and justifications for every single assumption made about you, you will realize that there is more to be seen than catches the eye. Our judgements are faulty because we don’t see the whole picture. People don’t know why you’re sad today and that it’s not really about them. They won’t understand why you’ve not been calling? There are so many factors that go into the equation that it’s impossible to judge and be right at the same time. I realized that there is no way I can know what goes behind appearances, behind closed doors. Why do I see what I see? Misunderstanding is the price we pay for judging others.
So, if you want to understand, tone down the judgment. If you find yourself about to judge someone – it’s normal and unavoidable – take a deep breath and give them the benefit of doubt and remember you’re probably judged, too. Don’t judge and hopefully someone will return the favor.