I wouldn't say say my pre-baby self was a judgmental person, per se, but I'll admit to thinking I had people figured out. "A certain type of person" would do ______, wear _______, think _______. I was fascinated by sub-cultures of people (still am), and I think that's what really drove me to study journalism. I wanted to tell people's stories — to understand them.
But then my own story changed in a way I never expected, and I was suddenly dropped into a sub-culture that I didn't identify with. I wasn't the "type of person" who moved back close to home — raising kids in the same community that she grew up in. Back in high school, I judged these people as smaller and unambitious. I thought that breaking out of my bubble — living down in the energetic glow of Manhattan — was for the shining stars.
(And then I lived in New York City and gagged on the colliding smells and the fumes of taxis, and took the train home to breathe fresh air and be surrounded by quiet, where my introverted self could be at peace.)
I wasn't the "type of person" to have a child at a young age, before establishing my career and traveling the world — as educated young women are supposed to do.
Except I was, apparently, because people don't cluster together in neat boundary lines. You can't know a person by a circumstance, or even an image. You can't determine your worth and potential based on how other people label you. And I think I really learned that lesson once I was seen through a lens of judgment and stereotypes and statistics.
I am not a statistic, I thought.
I daydreamed about starting a Web site that challenged the standard image of a "young mom" and redefined the concept. A Web site that showed the smart, successful, stylish women who started having kids early. A Web site that counteracts the negative.
So I did.
And then I was told that the very act of counter-acting a judgment is a judgment in itself — which I guess is, in a way, true. Was I being judgmental by asking people not to judge me? Was I judging MYSELF through that lens, as if saying "I'm not like THEM!" (while pointing to a crowd of young moms and shooting a judgy look)? I think that's a reasonable argument to make, but here's the thing: Being judged (which, let's be honest, I was — I heard the insensitive comments and absorbed the shocked looks with my ears and eyes) made me less judgmental of "them." And by "them," I mean anyone who I maybe would have judged in the past.
They don't know my full story; I don't know their full story.
I'm not perfect, of course. I'm only human. But being the judged makes me more conscious of judging others, and I think it's made me a more tolerant and accepting person.
And that's why I participated in Non-Judgment Week with "early mama" Heidi behind The Conscious Perspective. I know I mentioned it before and I hope many of you signed up, but in case you didn't, here are some of my favorite pieces of insight:
Heidi made some important points about stepping outside of your belief system and really listening to other opinions instead of trying to change them. "By listening and tuning in to others we do not necessarily have to abandon our own beliefs. Hearing another perspective is an amazing opportunity to grow and learn. Take advantage of this opportunity when it arises."
"The way that other people judge me is none of my business." -Martha Beck.
While we can control judging others, we can't control others judging us — and that's OK.
Guest poster Stephanie Seguin of the blog Chasing Hazel wrote, "We can not evolve as citizens or as spiritual beings if we refuse to let the things that we believe to be true govern our thoughts toward others." She goes on to stress that we all grow and evolve with time, and even negative experiences help change our perspectives for the better.
Stephanie also shared this quote from Deepak Chopra,"It helps if you remember that everyone is doing their best from their level of consciousness." They think they're right, just as much as you think you're right.
Even now that "Non-Judgement Week" is over, an important lesson still lingers: A conscious perspective can lead to a more compassionate life.
Did being a young mom change your outlook on judgment?