Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Dear little girl,
We live in an hierarchical society, one that was built on scathing approaches.
“Don’t judge,” a tired mom says, as she gives her kids pizza for breakfast. “Don’t judge me” a friend laughs, trying to explain an odd fashion choice. Although we say it as a joke or to lightly excuse non-normative behavior, the truth is, judgement is perceived as toxic. The worst possible insult one can make is to call someone judgmental. The implicit and often explicit modern day notion of judging others is associated with poor character. We've learnt that nobody wants to be friend with a "judgy" person - but ... what if we redefine "judgy"
Firstly, lets recognize the root of judgement, and the problems sprung about it. Judgement often arises alongside self-doubt and suspicion, on the harsh reality that individuals envy what they lack and in attempt to gain - they humiliate; criticize and belittle.
Now I ask you, are we really that different from the ones we criticize? Many people have little trouble confessing to being hard on themselves, to being “my own worst critic” or to being a perfectionist. They are, after all, merely confessing to something that our culture upholds as a virtue: the struggle against the self. People are generally less likely to admit to being more harshly critical or judgmental of others than of oneself. That would be tantamount to outing oneself as a hypocrite.
Unfortunately for the image of the self-critic, it is impossible to be judgmental of oneself without being judgmental of others. Suppose each evening you look back over your day and evaluate whether you were truthful, ecologically responsible, wasteful, ethical, or greedy, praising yourself or beating yourself up accordingly. Well then, what about all those other people out there who were less honest, responsible, or ethical than you were? Are they therefore not as good as you are? Whether you accord them patronizing indulgence or condemnation, the implicit belief that “I am better than you” is inescapable.
Judgement is therefore separation. Separation in a sense that we choose differently from others because we are different from them. It says, “If I were you, I wouldn’t have done what you did.” - it is a spiteful tactic to distinguish humanity and segregate societies.
By the time you read this, I pray judgement is purely fictitious. I pray you succeed with the encouragement of your society rather than fail upon the perspicacity of peers. I write to you in time of judgement wherein there is an underlying oppression fixated on norms stipulated by irrelevancy.
"Women who wear shorts asked to be raped", "Women who wear too much makeup are fake", "Women with short hair aren't feminine" ... all these observations are opinionated and are based solely on appearance. The real shock comes after the agreement from you. Nowadays we find judgement to be conversational, and a corrupt weapon to "bond" and discover the morality in others.
By now, you've understood judgement and the prerequisite for it to exist, now let us reacquaint it in a more optimistic light. Judgement does not only cement itself in negativity, there is another side to judgement and many improvements made from it. Take judgement in the consumer world for example, feedback from your market is vital for ROI. In the same way, judgement is important for self-growth.
We’ve all felt judgement, but it’s important to turn your preconceived negatives into positives by having more understanding. Turn your thoughts into action by practicing empathy in order to change your mindset and turn your judgement into something positive.
Changing your mindset isn’t easy. It happens by being aware of the problem, taking an inventory of any judgmental thoughts, and making a conscious effort to change those thoughts. The key is compassion. It’s also worth understanding that many situations that create a judgmental response are situations with people who are different than we are.
Judgement is something we’ve all done and felt. Even in going through the process of changing mean and unhelpful thoughts, you’ll always still encounter some judgmental thoughts. Just remember: Having those thoughts isn’t the problem — it’s what you do with them.
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.
Little girl, be proud of who you are and what you have achieved. Let the triumphs of those who went before you, inspire you to unlock your own strength and motivate you to make a difference in your family; community and country. You've done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective and unstoppable determination.
Stand tall, little girl.