Have you ever sat down in a waiting room, scoped the room while looking up from a People magazine, and saw a person sitting across from you? Have you ever imagined their life story and created scenarios based on how they appear to you? As human beings, it is engrained in our history to simply everything in order to understand it. However, we can never truly judge someone else until we know their full story.
My Child Family Sciences professor is very adamant about sharing with others, anywhere from your past to yummy recipes. A few young women have been brave enough to stand in front of the class of 40 students and have stated their testimony of heartbreak, abuse, and neglect within their families. As a person who grew up living a fairly neutral lifestyle, I found it heartbreaking to hear of these women’s’ tragic histories at such a young age.
One woman in particular stood out to me. As the oldest of seven siblings, she was responsible for her family after her mother passed while she continued to be abused by her stepfather. She finally decided to become a single mother of nine after enduring two verbally and physically abusive marriages. At this point in her life, her drug-abusive brother could not take care of his five children. She decided to adopt all five in order to keep them from becoming separated.
Everyday she makes all 14 children breakfast, takes two car trips to take them to school, attends college in the afternoon, picks them up after school, makes them dinner, and puts them to bed by eight. All by herself with the help of her older children.
When I walked into class and saw her sitting in her desk, I passed her off as an older student who decided to finally get her degree. But it’s incredible how often we create assumptions and stereotypes about people in order to simplify their situation to understand them easier. This woman had a story to tell and boy was it profound.
It’s natural for us to stereotype and assume we know something about a person. But we never really do unless we ask or find out first-hand the blood and guts of their life. Being mindful of how you perceive others is an important trait that is difficult for many of us can grasp, including me. But ignorance is not bliss, and knowledge is power as someone once said.
Lee Harper wrote in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
She was right. It’s easier to judge than to take time to learn about another person’s struggles and successes. Then the question is, will you take the time to learn before you assume?
I would love to hear your take on this subject. Let me know in the comments below or via email. 🙂