“This is where I learned to stop being an asshole (and love the bomb)”
On the back of a street sign on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park, San Diego, California, in front of the Thai restaurant that clearly used to be a Pizza Hut
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had low self-esteem. And my coping mechanism was judgement. I’d judge others and make snarky comments about them behind their backs, and sometimes, to their faces. Maybe it was their outfit I’d criticize. Maybe it was their intellect, political affiliation, car they drove, or any other number of perceived differences between others and myself.
One day, I was driving down El Cajon with a friend in the passenger seat. I had made some off-handed remark about someone, of which I cannot remember. It was like a million comments I’d made before, and I didn’t think much of it. But what makes this time different, is that my friend stopped me and called me out on my judgmental ways.
“Ugh. You’ve got to stop! You are SO judgmental of others. Don’t you think it’s hypocritical that you struggle with low self-esteem and are constantly putting others down?”
That shut me up – not just for a few minutes, but for days, and weeks, and months. My hypocrisy was brought to my attention and I couldn’t ignore it. But my judgment of others is what had made me feel better about myself, and I completely crashed without that coping mechanism. I went into a deep depression and developed an anxiety disorder in the following months.
It sucked, but when I came out on the other side, I was able to function as well as I had before, but this time, judgement-free (or damn close to it). Today, my friends know me as someone who takes a “to each their own” attitude towards almost anything.
And I’ve developed a personal philosophy regarding unnecessary judgment and how it robs us of our freedoms as much as any dictatorship government could. As far as I’m concerned, as long as somebody is not causing harm to others, their thoughts, actions, beliefs, manner of dress, hairstyle, body type, etc. should not be fair game for judgment. I will judge the thief, the murderer, and the pedophile. But I will not judge the person who’s heavy-set, the person with tattoos and face piercings, or the person who is sleeping on the street.