This one is a tough one to write.
I used to be what you would call a HATER.
Scrolling through Facebook, walking through the grocery store…
Wow. So and so’s in jail again. Ha.
Somebody needs to get their roots touched up.
Oh, look. A small town rapper. How cool.
Dang, somebody’s gained weight since high school.
Cool. Breastfeeding selfie. Must be starving for attention.
Man. Four kids already.
Those shoes don’t go with that outfit.
Better you than me.
Nice belly hanging out of the shirt.
Wow, could you scream a little louder talking on the phone?
It would suck to have that much acne.
That couple is clearly annoyed with each other in public. Marriage counseling, much?
Oh good. Another #workselfie to go with the others you’ve posted 500 days in a row.
Wonder how long it’s been since she washed her hair.
Those shoes though.
I see you’re giving your toddler a soda. Excellent parenting choice.
Nice $50 outfit your toddler is wearing. You’ll love scrubbing stains out of that.
I’ve been guilty of telling my husband allllllll the gossip on someone I’ve seen out in public. Who has been in jail, who lost custody of their kids, who had drug problems, who cheated on who, and even just the pettiest of high school rumors… FIVE YEARS LATER.
Oh. I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have to tell me. And let’s be honest…
YOU KNOW YOU’VE DONE THE SAME THING.
If you’re telling the truth, you’re guilty of judging someone based on their appearance or making an assumption about them based solely on their clothes, hairstyle. You know that at least once in your life, you’ve chalked up what a person is like based on a 10 second situation. You know that in a moment when you felt insecure, the easiest thing to do was to make someone else seem a little bit worse than you are.
But this is the thing.
I wasn’t thinking all of this because I thought my you-know-what doesn’t stink.
I know I’m about 20 pounds bigger than I was in high school. I’ve been known to rock a 6 inch root on platinum blonde hair those times I felt guilty for spending the money to get it done. My husband and I have found ourselves a little more than annoyed at each other in public places. I’m not the most perfect mom in the world and made plenty of not-so-wise parenting choices, especially as a 19 year old with my first born. I know that I’m not perfect. I’m human.
So why wasn’t I giving everyone else the same grace I try to give myself?
It’s as simple as this:
Society says not to.
Society says the cool girl is the one with the most expensive clothing, makeup, and hair.
Society says the coolest guys are the ones with beards, tattoos, and abs for days.
Society says that Dollar General and Ross are not acceptable places to shop.
Wal-Mart brand, and even just Wal-Mart in general, isn’t cool enough. Target is.
It says that your toddler should ONLY have the nicest clothes. Gone are the days of Sesame Street light-up sandals and cartoon character t-shirts being the best.
You need the latest iPhone and all the trendy things or else you’re probably just broke. And society says that money is everything. You will never be well-liked without it.
Society says that if you’re nice, you must be a prude.
Love, compassion, and kindness equate to weakness in today’s world.
You know what that kind of thinking does to you after awhile?
It just makes you miserable.
You’ll start to realize that the negative things you point out in others are oftentimes the very same things that you refuse to accept about yourself.
It’s exhausting to be negative. It’s literally tiring to never focus on the good things in people. Eventually that type of thinking takes over your entire personality. Your jokes become less funny and more at the expense of others. You start to nit pick everyone around you. Your confidence is at an all-time low. All the negativity just piles onto your spirits and drags you down like a big elephant sitting on your shoulders.
I know this, because like I said, I used to be a hater.
Used to be.
So what changed?
Someone who I care about had tried a new hairstyle one day. Personally, I loved it. I thought it looked great. But the other complete jerks in the room apparently didn’t like it.
They started laughing. It wasn’t even the kind of laugh that you could hide. They tried to act like it was an inside joke, but New Hair Girl knew exactly why they were laughing. She was already feeling vulnerable and insecure because of the fact that she was trying something new. And what is she greeted with? Laughing. Bullying.
As soon as she left, I cried. I was so angry. I went off.
It tore me up and it still bothers me to this day.
I didn’t even have a part in the laughing, but I still felt huge amounts of guilt.
Then I started thinking… What if I was to try something new and be met with such hatefulness? And better yet, what if all the GARBAGE that went through my head about people came to the light like it did with New Hair Girl? What if they all knew what I was saying about them?
I read a quote once that said something along the lines of this:
The first thought that runs through your head is what society has conditioned you to think. The second thought is what defines who you are.
Don’t get me wrong. Changing your thinking does not happen overnight. But that quote up there really helped me
1. not feel like so much of a complete a-hole for the thoughts that go through my head
2. give myself the chance to make a conscious effort to shift my way of thinking
The New Hair incident changed my thinking. I guess that was my light bulb of full maturity finally turning on. After that, I tried to make a solid effort to change the way I see things. To really understand what other people might be going through in their lives.
Fast forward to today. I am more confident. I’m more understanding. I am just generally a more positive person all the way around.
That parent with the expensive toddler clothes probably felt loads of pride knowing they worked hard to be able to give them to their child.
The woman with four kids might have dreamed her whole life of having a huge family.
The mom giving her kid a soda might not EVER do unhealthy treats.
Did you ever think that the one wearing Wal-Mart clothing might just actually like them, even if she’s got thousands of dollars in the bank? And what if she doesn’t? What if that’s all she can afford? Why does that make her any less than you?
Maybe the one who gained a lot of weight is trying hard to knock off some pounds, but can’t lose the weight? What good does being snooty do for them?
The couple arguing in public might be going through a rough time in their relationship.
You know very, very little about anyone based on an interaction that lasts as long as passing by them in the grocery store. VERY little.
So who are you to judge?! Who am I to judge?! When did we start caring so much?! Whyyyyyy?! In this age of social media where every good moment is displayed for the world to see, it’s so much easier to cast judgment on anyone when things aren’t as shiny and perfect as they are on their most recent Facebook post.
My point is this…
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a different background. Different reasons for doing things. Different morals, different inspirations, different ways of thinking. Different religions, different cultures, different upbringings. We are all different.
You can either hate the differences because you refuse to try and understand them, or you can embrace them. You can be judgmental and ride your high horse all over town because you think that putting someone down somehow makes you better. Or you can choose to be happy, get rid of all the negativity, and turn it into love.
Bashing someone, even if it’s just in your head, does not make you prettier or smarter or more popular or liked.
What you receive in life is exactly what you put in.
So don’t fill the world with more garbage than it already has.
Be the light in the world. Be the one that makes people happy. Make people feel good about themselves. It all starts with a shift in the way that you think.
Don’t be a hater. Be a motivator. 😎
“It’s not what you got, it’s what you give.”