April 20, 2020

F*ck all the Judgment & Labeling—We are so Much More.

{Warning: salty language ahead!}


I don’t always worry about this kind of thing, but lately, it’s been chafing my thighs. 

Now, I want to preface with the fact that I agree we shouldn’t let people’s opinions have an effect on us, but sometimes they just do. Okay?

It would be disingenuous of us to act like we are entirely immune to the world and the people around us. In a perfect world, every negative, back-handed, passive-aggressive, overtly aggressive, and manipulative word would slip off our backs—like water off duck feathers. (Ever read about the mechanics of the duck feather? I highly recommend it.)

I try to live my life like the duck, but sometimes I am more like an old, tired sponge—absorbing more than I want to.

So, what does all of this mean? It means fuck all the rude comments, people! It means we already live in a world that tests us, pushes us, and strips us down, so can we just quit the bullshit negativity and judgment?

How can we possibly sit so high on our horses and look at someone from the outside—or even after a few conversations—and just magically think we know a single fucking thing about them?

Here’s some of the salt in my wounds:

>> “She’s a dumb blonde.”

Well, I can’t argue my case with integrity and say I haven’t done stupid shit before, but first of all (for petty argument’s sake), I am a natural brunette. Secondly, since when does silliness equal dumb? I have lived through things and seen things that were not meant for my age or eyes. I choose light-heartedness, every damn day, in direct opposition to the chaos that is my mind. 

Not to mention that during my first year of college, I had to be dropped off by my mother for classes because I started when I was only 16. (Shameless tooting of my own horn as a reaction to the meanness.)

I am self-aware enough to recognize that being blonde and extroverted has a label attached to it—I guess that’s why I am writing this. I think it’s bullshit. 

Why does a person get to look at me and immediately think they know anything about me? And I don’t just notice it happening to myself, I see it happen to everyone!

Maybe we choose to smile and laugh because we believe it is better than wallowing in despair.

Yes, I’m angry today.

Some days I am better than others. But, today, I can feel heat swimming beneath my skin and venom on my tongue. So, I am writing this instead. To keep me in check and hopefully stoke some change.

>> “She’s naive—never had any struggles.”

I almost have to laugh at this one, with a twitching eye, because it is so disconnected. Every single person on this planet experiences suffering, loss, rejection, emotional abuse, whatever it may be, at some time. Sit the fuck down with the assumptions.

My biological father has never been a part of my life. My mother was a badass, single-mom, warrior woman, but we still knew financial struggles. When I was 17 years old, I moved out. I put myself through college—had to stop and take significant gaps of time off so I could work and support myself. 

Just because we don’t display our struggles on a billboard does not mean that they don’t exist.

>> She doesn’t understand the real world or have pain.”

Oh, the real world? The real world is overcoming emotional trauma from past relationships.

The real world is sitting in our darkness and trying to deal with it, without letting it bleed on to others.

The real world is having a best friend who suddenly won’t eat and trying to figure out how to help when they shut us out. The real world is waiting seven years to ever speak to that friend again. Seven years before this friend comes back and thanks us for saving their life.

>> “She’s superficial.”

I get a kick out of this comment as well. Mostly because I am proud to be the greatest slob to ever walk the earth. My most common mode of operation is dirty hair, no makeup, and no pants. 

And, if I choose to wash my hair (once per week usually), and apply makeup (only with my finger because I don’t understand brushes or contouring), why does this make me superficial? 

The irony is we also put down the women who don’t wear makeup—we call them masculine, granola hippies, or slobs. 

I’m going to tell a condensed version of my story from Burning Man because it feels like a perfect description of this kind of judgment. Burning Man was a paradoxical world of openness and deceptive close-mindedness. There was latex, nudity, orgy tents, spiritual readings, Dr. Bronner’s bubble bath parties, cuddle pile tents, and dusty, vegan grilled cheeses being handed out. Not to mention a whole heaping load of judgment on how someone carried themselves through all of it. Apparently, there are unique labels for each type of “burner.” I was unaware of this at the beginning. A hierarchy, so to speak. Even in the land of “everything goes,” there is only a specific way to do it that is considered right. My label was “Sparkle Pony.” A Sparkle Pony is typically someone famous or a wannabe who experiences Burning Man from the comfort of their motorhome—this is a luxury because that person can shower! They don’t help or contribute to the community, and probably leave early after they’ve gotten the picture they want for Instagram. 

I first want to clarify that not a single thing in that definition was correct for me. I stayed in a tiny tent that I had set up on my own, in the dark. I cooked all my own food and gave extras to neighbors. I never used my phone once. The only memories I have are in my head or were emailed to me after the fact. And I didn’t shower one single time. It’s disgusting, but lemon, vinegar, and baby wipes were my best friend! And I loved every minute!

After a few days, I was newly nicknamed “Mother Nature” because I cooked for my whole camp. I was also the only one not having emotional breakdowns which are an expected thing half-way through the week (think about the lack of serotonin happening there). I learned how to handle greywater quickly, and threw around Nature Valley bars as snacks for everyone like they were confetti. I didn’t whine when the dust cracked my feet and got in my eyes, and I diligently picked up the microscopic pieces of trash that cannot be left behind. I remember feeling glad to be recognized as an asset—a real burner—but I realize now that I had been pigeon-holed. Again.

>> “She’s so basic.”

Yet another one that feels like a bag of gravel in my panties. What is basic? Why is it basic? If anything feels basic and sophomoric, it is judging others for no reason.

If we like to drink mimosas (I actually prefer a Bloody Maria) and brunch with our friends, this doesn’t take away from our depth. After a devastating discovery of a depressed friend trying to commit suicide, I wanted brunch and bloody’s whenever I could get them. 

When I moved from California to South America, I was taking pictures everywhere I went because I wanted to soak up every damn second of it. I wanted to remember the colors and the people. The bricks, stones, horses, cafes, and all the plants hanging from the telephone wires. What did someone say to me? “Don’t be so basic and only worry about photos!

Really? Photos are like little postage stamps that send us to another time. Why should we deprive ourselves of things out of fear of being judged?

Also, I do enjoy certain things that are considered “basic.” I like brunch. I enjoy feeling pretty every now and then. I like restaurants with thoughtful decor and good food. I like visiting places that are popular and places that are not. I love my classic labrador puppy, but I also loved my pet rat. I love horseback riding and archery. I like wearing Lululemon, and I also love thrift shopping! I like fancy things, and I also like jars of dirt from around the world (I ask all my friends to bring me some when they go somewhere).

I love beautiful houses I see on the beach, but my goal is to have a fully sustainable tiny home. I want chickens and cows. I want a giant garden and untamed land. I also want to live in Morocco before any of that happens. 

I have backpacked in the Sequoias with nothing but a few cans of soup, an emergency blanket, and my two feet. I’ve camped on the beach with horses. I’ve walked the Great Wall of China. I’ve spent a whole summer in Italy. I’ve ridden motorcycles through the Andes and trekked overnight in the Amazon—all while staying in five-dollar hostels with paper-thin walls. I’ve ridden on golf carts across bridges too small for cars in Indonesia.

Do I still get annoyed if I break a nail or have a bad hair day? Sure, but this does not define me!

We are all so much more than just one single detail! 

So, even when we are seen being silly and brunching, or whatever it may be, it’s impossible to put a label on it.

Moral of the story? I wish that we could be kinder to each other. I wish that we didn’t have to look at a person and make judgments. Am I guilty of it at times? Absolutely. But I sure as hell try not to. 

I try not to put a label or level of significance on someone’s pain. Or their coping mechanisms. Or on them at all. I love humans. I think we are all complex galaxies of dust, disappointment, fear, ambition, desire, and a need for acceptance.

We are all navigating uncharted waters, my friends. Let’s keep the labels at bay.

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