Step 53 – Don’t Assume (Or In Another Word, Don’t Judge)

We’re all guilty of it. We judge. And even if you say or think that you don’t, I have bad news for you – yes, you do. We all classify people based on our knowledge of them. This knowledge usually comes from TV, or things we see online. They rarely come from what we’ve actually experienced. I myself was very judgmental when I came to the US, simply because I grew up in the society that judges, especially if you have a skin color other than white and if you’re not Catholic. When I think of certain sentences that have come out of my mouth, I’m ashamed. I keep working on myself, on how I see and treat other people. I know that I’ve changed a lot here and am very open-minded right now. Yet still, my main goal for 2018 is to not be judgmental. 

There is one sad thing that I’ve realized; it’s very difficult for people to stop being narrow-minded if they don’t leave their own country and live in a different culture for a bit. This definitely applies to New Yorkers. They’re surrounded by nearly all the other cultures of the world, but since they’ve never lived anywhere outside NY, this isn’t enough for them to be less judgmental. You have to expose yourself to different surrounding, people who you normally don’t hang out with, people from different religious and social backgrounds. That’s the only way to see what other cultures are about. I’ve learned in NY – sometimes the hard way – that I don’t know much. I’ve met people from Mexico, India, Eastern Europe, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, the US, the Philippines and Guatemala, and some of them have become my closest friends here. We couldn’t be more different, but that didn’t stop us from becoming our own NY family. That’s been my biggest lesson in NY, learning to ask. I used to assume that I knew a person just because we were from the same country. Now I realize this was very stupid of me. This became clear when one of the girls I know said to me once, “Oh, this girl who does my eyebrows is Polish. You should meet her, you’ll become friends.” I looked at her and asked, “Why? Because we’re both Polish?” Even though I felt that her thought process was stupid, I realized that sometimes mine was the same. In reality, the chances of me and this Polish girl becoming friends are the same as the chances of me becoming friends with someone from Ecuador, France or Egypt. There is simply no definitive pattern for things like that. People constantly assume so many things just because they think they know. For instance, people are constantly asking me if my favorite alcohol is vodka, just because I’m from Poland. (I actually hate vodka.) Or they keep saying that I probably like the winter we’re having, because it’s similar to the one we have in my country. (I fucking hate this weather and no – winters in Poland are not always full of snow.) 

What I’m trying to say, and what my advice to you is, is that when you meet someone for the first time, ask them what they think, ask them what it’s like in their country, ask them if it’s really like you’ve heard it is. Please don’t say stupid things like, “Oh, you’re from Mexico, do you get wasted on tequila every weekend and are tacos your favorite food?” Perhaps some of them do get wasted on tequila, and for some of them tacos really are the best food out there, but that doesn’t mean those things are true for EVERYONE. Questions like those don’t show your knowledge. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – they only exposes your ignorance. And ignorance is a very bad trait to have.

Even when you’re having a discussion with a friend or a partner whom you’ve known for a long time – ask him or her what they think; don’t assume you know something just because you’ve known each other for a long time. Yes, you have some knowledge about this person, but remember – we change over time, and some things can even change over night. So please – before you state your opinion or offer advice, ask first. It will really help you to know this person better, and more importantly, this person will connect with you right away, because you’re showing them that you care, and don’t just assume.