“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
Have you ever thought about how many times we judge other people in a single day? Now, think about how many times per day we, ourselves, are judged. I would say it's probably a number none of us would be comfortable with. I was always taught to never think you're better than anyone else. Even with this nugget of wisdom ingrained in my being, I make quick or subtle judgements about others and that leads to the realization that no one is perfect regardless of upbringing, background or education.
It's a whole different ball game when we judge ourselves. We all try, no matter how many times we are told that striving for perfection is a futile endeavor, we still catch ourselves saying "it's not good enough" or "I could have done things better". This is especially true for those of us who are our own worst critics. Yes, you could have done things better. So what? (Wow, that sounded harsh) The fact is that when you're at the point where you reminisce on a past failing or poor decision, it's far too late to change outcomes. As they say, "it is what it is". C'est la vie. It's exactly at this time that you must stop beating yourself up for not being perfect. You were never meant to be perfect. All we can do is put our best foot forward and have faith that we do the right thing when called upon. If that didn't happen yesterday then realize tomorrow is another chance to do better. No one should be judged by a snapshot in time. Anyone can have a bad day, week or even year but that is in the past where it belongs.
If you think about it, how arrogant we must be to think we know better than someone else in a given situation. It's so easy to say you would have acted differently. You know better than to do that. What were they thinking? Don't open that door, a psychopathic murderer is on the other side!!!- (superfluous horror movie reference). The fact is that we don't know, we haven't lived a day in their life and hind sight is always 20/20. We all fall short at various times in our lives. No one is immune to disappointment.
I'm an introvert that has spent most of my years trying to fit in when I should have focused more on what made me different. What I came to realize is what others will and that is, there is a reason why you feel different. When you find out what that reason is, you know there is no benefit to live in judgment of others. Acceptance of yourself leads to acceptance of others. The only way to accept others is as they are. If people are quiet and choose to keep their private lives private, I respect that. If people are outgoing and feel completely comfortable divulging sensitive aspects of their life, I respect that too. We don't have to fully understand each other to have mutual respect for one another.
It was the last day of The Old Time Peddlers Fair and Home Show in my hometown and I was feeling a little frustrated that I hadn't made a sale yet that afternoon. I caught myself feeling this way and quickly tried to adjust by thinking calming thoughts. A few minutes after that, an older gentlemen was walking from across the large building towards my booth with an interested look and gentle smile. I returned his smile and asked if he was enjoying the Home Show. He responded with a pleasant "yes" but was still focused on one of my pieces, the Antique Wooden Catalog Box Table.
This is the part where I disappoint myself. My inner dialogue whispered that he may not be able to afford to purchase the piece. This older man was modestly dressed in worn jeans and a white t-shirt that was also worn. The fact that I thought this for one second disgusted me. Snap out of it Julie! How dare you judge someone this way! Never think that way again! All thoughts that quickly went through my mind before I engaged in a conversation with him. "I see that the antique catalog box has caught your eye". He then began to tell me that he had one years ago that was made out of metal with 12 boxes (6 on top and bottom) with everything intact. I asked if he still had it because it could be worth quite a bit now. He said no, he had took it to a scrap yard and got the money for the scrap metal. He then told me that he doesn't have room to hold on to things like that. "My wife likes to collect things though. Just the other day my son was at the house and tried to guess how many elephant figurines she had. My son guessed over 200. Shoot, she probably has 700 or more. She collects too much". I relayed that sometimes people can go overboard with collecting things. "Yep, that's what she does and now her cancer came back. The doctors say it's just a matter of time." "Oh dear God, I'm so sorry to hear that.", I uttered. "My son says I should have a sale, . . one of those sales where you sell everything in the home." "An estate sale?", I asked. "Yeah, that's what it's called. What am I supposed to do now? I've got this 4 bedroom house. All I will need is one room. All that stuff means nothing to me". He seemed literally stunned and confused after making this admission. My heart hurt for him. I wanted to give him a hug so badly, I should have given him a hug. All I could do was to say that I would pray for them both and may God bless him and his wife. He thanked me and made his way back across the building.
That exchange affected me deeply. I will never forget this man and how much he must have wanted to tell someone (anyone) what he was feeling. I'm glad he came by my little booth. He touched my soul by trusting me with a small piece of his pain. I will never forget it. Maybe that is what he wished to say to his wife. We can collect all the things in the world but it means nothing without loved ones to share it with.
There is no room for compassion, understanding or even knowledge if we continue to judge others without a second thought and sometimes sight unseen. I will continue to do my best to catch myself when these unseemly thoughts surface. The ability to judge less and accept people as they are will be another aspiration I will include in my daily life.
For my special friend and his wife, I have attached the song Book of Love by Peter Gabriel.
Book of Love by Peter Gabriel
Always stay classy,
Project Vintage US
Thank you for taking the time to read my blogpost and feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. I started writing pieces and posts to prove to myself I could articulate my thoughts in a way that made sense. I realized soon after that it was somewhat therapeutic to express my thoughts about life's mysterious twists and turns as well as all the wonderful lessons we learn on the way.