The first time I remember feeling the bitter sting of being judged harshly I was eleven years old. We had just moved to a new city in France. It was my first day at my new school. Grade seven. Because of the move we were a week late for the beginning of classes. Groups had been formed. Allegiances made. I walked into the schoolyard that morning feeling like an outsider.
I stood alone, waiting for the bell to ring inviting us in. Not far from me stood a group of girls. They kind of looked like the cool kids and I thought I’d like to be part of their tribe.
I smiled tentatively at one of them and she turned away.
I looked away too, not sure what to do.
They whispered among themselves and I could feel them looking at me, eyeing me up and down. I wanted to say Hi. I wanted to be part of the group. I wanted to make friends but was a little afraid and intimidated by the group. And then, I overheard one of the girls say to another as she glanced at me. “What a snob.”
I remember feeling the sting of those words. I remember thinking, “But you don’t even know me.”
It was a defining moment.
I had a choice to make. Let their judgement of me become my truth, or not. I could retreat behind a wall of resentment and attitude, or, I could step out and be known for who I am, not who others perceived me to be.
I stepped out. I decided to introduce myself to the group and not be the snob they’d judged me to be without even knowing me. (I think I may have also done it out of a bit of ‘spite’ too! How dare you judge me! I’ll show you!)
Stepping into that group I didn’t know that the girl who made the comment would become one of my very best friends. We are still in contact. A few years ago she came to Calgary and we spent a four day weekend catching up on thirty years of living. We had a blast.
And as to my defining moment?
It didn’t have a lot of impact on them. In fact, when my girlfriend and I talked about it later, she barely remembered the moment.
I told her how it was one of my defining moments. How, because I never wanted anyone to think I was a snob, I decided I could not act like one.
For that group, my stepping up first paved the way for them to see I wasn’t being standoffish. I was just feeling intimidated and scared — there I was at a new school, the new kid. They didn’t have to invite me into their group, but once I stepped up and showed myself to be who I was, I made it easy for them to let me in.
I didn’t understand that then. I didn’t see how I could be a threat to them or that they didn’t need to invite me in.
French author, Honore de Balzac wrote, “The more one judges, the less one loves.”
My happiness comes from loving, not judging. From seeking first to understand, before being understood.
When I stand in love and allow compassion for my fellow human beings to be my guide as well as the measurement of my happiness within, the world around me becomes a better place for me to stand in. In Love, anything is possible.
And the best part is…. The less I judge, the more I am buoyed up to live, love, laugh my way through every day!