I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the judgements we pass on others before knowing anything about them. “The waitress was such a bitch.” But do we ever take the time to think that she might have something going on in her life that is making it difficult for her to deal with our petty bullshit and need for “one more thing?” We, and I’m including myself, have been so self-centered that we cannot reach past our own assumptions, life, problems, needs or anything else to consider that other’s also have lives. Everyone around you has a story, a problem, something bothering them, something bringing joy into their life. We are all different and I’ve spent so much of my life focusing on that and how I don’t fit in here or there and I’m tired of it.
The worst part is we have all been on the other side of the judgements. We’ve had rumors spread, lies told, but yet here we are still passing onto others when we know the pain that it brings.
I’ve been on the fence about using this example because it’s really personal, but I used to say I wanted to use the shit I’ve been through to bring light into the lives of others and help other people learn. So I’m going for it.
Middle and high school were difficult times for me, especially during my time at a private Christian school. I’m going to try to leave out specific names of places and people because that’s not really what’s important here.
I was in seventh grade when the rumors of me being a flirt and a little loose with the guys started. It was probably around the time I was caught kissing a boy in the stairwell, but honestly I can’t remember exactly. All I knew was that me being friends with mainly guys was somehow socially unacceptable and made me a floosy. I don’t know how because at the time I didn’t even know what a blow job was and didn’t have any desire to do more than kiss a boy, but you know how rumors work. Before I knew it I was sleeping with every guy in school, and our school went up to 12th grade.
Kids are already trying to figure themselves out at this age, so you can image how this affected me. I always tried to pretend to be tough and not care, but the truth was I cared a lot.
That summer between seventh and eighth grade I had something taken from me. I had very little say in the matter and I didn’t realize what had happened until days later. Maybe I was that whore everyone thought I was. If I wasn’t I would have stopped, said no. But now looking back, I didn’t know how. Thankfully, I’ve found my voice.
As I told my best friend about it I bragged, pretended to be more grown up than I was, but inside I was torn apart. This girl who always said she wanted to wait until marriage, that was no longer an option. The worst part, I started to believe I was this person in the rumors. I believed I was a whore, that I wasn’t worthy of my faith and my God. When I was kicked out I felt like I deserved it. So I didn’t fight back, I accepted this version of myself that was tainted, something I never said I wanted or planned.
That’s the problem with lies, eventually we even start to believe them ourselves. We spend so much time tearing down others and so little time thinking about how our actions are really affecting those around us. I know we were only in middle school, but that’s one of the hardest times of our life. It shapes us into the person we will be someday. I only hope that I can continue to take the bad and use it for good.
Recently I had a semi-encounter with someone I used to attend that school with. Apparently she wasn’t going to go anywhere that I was present. Nearly 10 years later and here we still are believing the awful rumors of our childhood. I am still that broken person to so many people – so many people who don’t know me at all. This one particular girl, I can’t remember ever even talking to her. What is it that makes her feel that way about me? When I heard this I felt myself being pulled back to my eighth grade self. For the first time in so many years I cried because of what someone else said about me.
I am one of the most confident people I know because I choose to be. Happiness, confidence, joy – those are things we choose to be. They don’t happen by accident. But here I was at 24 years old letting some stupid idea of me, that had nothing do with who I really am, get under my skin. That’s when I realized that I had to stop doing the same to others. Whether someone knows what you say or think of them, it’s a terrible thing to think your opinion is so important that it should be used to tear others down. We are all beautifully different and that should celebrated. Never forget to stop and think about what someone else has going on. Because that girl you just called a whore, maybe what was taken from her wasn’t her choice.