In the 19th Episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted, in an attempt to make Robin jealous, takes a woman on a date who he thinks is a prostitute. This is against his moral code and is also a huge ploy by Barney when he reveals that “Mary, The Paralegal” is actually a Paralegal and not a prostitute, dashing Ted’s chances of spending a night with her when he arrogantly tries to affirm that thought on the outside of their hotel room.
This gets me thinking, there have been a lot of times in my life when I’ve harshly judged someone because of who I think they are. I hear stories and tall tales about them and it changes my opinion of them almost immediately because I assume that all of those stories are true. Well, that’s what todays blog post is about. Assuming things about people.
We hear a lot of things about a lot of people every day. I’ve said bad things about other people as well. It may be because I’m in a bad mood or because I have beef with that person at the time, whatever the case, I’ve built up ideas in other’s minds because of the things that I’ve had to say about certain individuals.
It’s strange to think that I have built friendships with some of those people. There was a girl that I knew of in high school who was constantly being talked shit about, that she was loose, that she was addicted to drugs, that she (insert rumor here.) and those kinds of things damaged other people’s outlook of her and who she was. A couple years after high school I became her friend through twitter and I came to understand the truth of the situation. Sure, it could have been a half truth, but that isn’t important. What is important that she wasn’t like the rumors that I had heard about her all through school. She was bright and creative and her sex life or drug use didn’t matter much to me. I could see that she had been through a lot and I wasn’t about to claim to understand her story enough to speak on it.
Sometimes I think we get caught up in that. I know all of my friends well. They are close to me and I love them dearly, I know of many of their ups and downs as well as all of their character flaws and the great things about them. Yet, I still choose to accept them for who they are because I love them.
It’s an odd occurrence lately that people think that love is some kind of automatic thing that we just feel at a mysterious provocation. There seems to be this idea that we don’t choose to love who we choose, and that is a false idea. Every morning when I wake up I do two things. I sit down and take a bit to be thankful that I’m alive, and I remind myself why I have the people in my life that I do. I have chosen to love them with everything I can. Do we fight? Sure. Do we spend time not talking to one another? Occasionally, but that doesn’t change the fact that I love them in and out, all the time.
When we take time out of our lives to speak badly or to spread rumors or create ideas about other people, we do no good for those people or for ourselves. By doing that we allow ourselves to succumb to this idea that we know everything about someone, even though years of experience and friendship couldn’t scratch the surface of another person’s quiet thoughts and feelings. It’s impossible to know everything about someone.
That’s why I want to be honest in every encounter. I’m not excellent at it and I catch myself speaking ill of others and occasionally spreading rumors, but it is something I’m working hard on because every day when I wake up I have to understand that there are people out there that love everyone. No one is without love from somewhere. What would my loved ones do if they heard someone spreading fasle rumors about me? What would they do if someone was speaking ill about me?
I would hope that they would stand up for me and not let those ideas and thoughts perpetuate.
At the end of the day, we can only try as hard as we can, but if we operate based on the ideas we hold about other people instead of operating based on our interactions and real connection with people, we will get nowhere. We will end up with a hand print on our face, standing alone in a hallway wondering what just happened.
People are dynamic and complicated and full of things we might never understand…
But we can try.