It’s Not You, It’s Not Me, It’s…

Last week, I made a mistake. I judged someone.

And I was wrong about them.

Sort of like how I was wrong in thinking that lowering my book goal would help me reach it… summer, where art thou.

I like to think that I know people. I like to think that I am aware of people’s personalities, their desires, their strengths and their shortcomings. To an extent, I am – not in a creepy way, but in a cognizant, perceptive way. While I don’t think that I am by any means a mind reader, I feel that I possess some level of interpersonal intelligence, just like most people do.

On the other hand, I know that I have good morals. It’s one of the few things I will admit about myself confidently – there is nothing that upsets me more than when someone violates my strict mental set of morals. Incidentally, I have been wanting to write a blog post about cheating, because it has been occurring often in my school and in my class. Just wait until I write that post to see how frustrated cheating causes me to become.

So imagine my surprise when someone who I thought had good morals, someone who I was not exactly close to, but at least an acquaintance with, was caught cheating.

I know, my artistic ability is astounding.

One Direction disbanding. Nutella no longer being sold. The world ending. All of these apocalyptic events accurately describe what I felt was happening when I discovered that this person – who I had held in high esteem – had done something as senseless as cheating. I called my friends (no, not my imaginary ones… okay, maybe) and ranted to them, I listened to Taylor Swift, heck, I even was unable to focus on my schoolwork.

For a few days, I tried to give this person the silent treatment. I refused to speak to them, and when I was forced to, I resisted the urge to castigate them or criticize their actions. My behavior wasn’t so much an offensive attack against them, but a defensive mechanism for me. I was hurt that this person who I had trusted – though once again, not someone I was particularly close to – had taken my trust and proved that it was undeserved.

Look at my friend’s precious cat! Isn’t she so cute? See, an adorable feline friend like this one would never betray my trust… I know, I need a life.

This all changed when I had the chance to talk to this person face to face one day during school. They had noticed how I had been acting around them, and I proceeded to initiate a conversation concerning what I wanted to get straight with them – mainly, the cheating incident. I wanted to know why they did it, if they had learned from it, and most importantly, if I was mistaken in allocating my trust in them.

It turns out, I wasn’t. Well, I was, as they definitely made a mistake by cheating – but I made one, too, because I assumed that this individual was a bad person and that I had no reason to respect them based off of one thing that they had done. I had to talk it out with them before realizing how irrational I had been. And here is the thesis of this blog post, the point that I’m trying to get across:  I should have judged the situational factors of the incident more than I judged the person himself.  I should have examined the fine print of the problem before immediately blaming them.

The sad thing is that I learned about this exact attribution error in my AP Psychology class (the fundamental attribution error). And yet I still did it anyway. I forgot that, when it comes to relationships, it is better to judge actions, and not people. That the situation plays a prominent part in determining someone’s behavior, and that a person’s personality is not the only thing that drives them to do things.

Just like how bad things happen to good people, good people can do bad things. Sometimes, it is not their fault. Perhaps someone assumes the role of the class clown, not because they enjoy acting immature or irresponsible, but because they feel pressured to because of their peers. Perhaps a girl wears risque clothing and goes to parties, not because she has lacks self-control or has no motivation to do anything else, but because she feels repressed at home and school and needs to express herself.

This train of thought, that one should not judge another without observing the environmental factors influencing their behavior, begs the question: how do we ever get to know each other, then? How can we truly understand someone, if we have to attribute all of their actions to their circumstances? Like the ever present nature vs. nurture debate in psychology, how much can we say is caused by an individual’s personality and how much can we say is caused by what is going on around them?

I don’t have an answer to those questions, but I do know one thing we should do – get to know people. We shouldn’t base our beliefs of others solely on their actions. Try to talk to people, and try to develop a deeper relationship and bond with them. If someone is a bully because they simply like abusing others, then, fine, that’s not okay – but if they themselves are receiving some nasty stuff from their peers, then it is not entirely their fault. I’ll sum up this post with a quote from John Steinbeck, one of my favorite authors:

What do you guys think of what I’ve written here? Agree or disagree? I’m so happy I had practically no homework today and was able to get this post off of my chest and onto my computer screen. Have you ever made a mistake concerning your judgement of someone? Have you ever been judged unfairly? I remember writing a post about the right to judge awhile ago, but after rereading it, this one has a different central theme and a slightly more personal tone to it. Now I must study a little and then go to bed… see you guys next time!



Filed under Personal, Society

10 responses to “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me, It’s…

  1. I agree with you 100%, I’ve been in a similar position before. I’ve moved onto another school a few months ago and I came across this guy (Heath), from our first few conversations I summed up that he was such an annoying jerk (we argued a lot). I ranted off my feelings to a few of my friends.
    Later, Heath (aware of my opinion of him) approached me and told me that of my friends that I was the only one that would to him, even if we were ticking each other off. I wondered why? (for a few seconds) They must have thought the same way I had, but what I noticed was that that was the way he had said those words to me, not arrogantly asking why the ignored him, but quit the opposite.
    So I decided to be nice to him, to see his reaction. He turned to be an okay guy, civil hellos and goodbyes and stuff. I realized I was mistaken. Then I noticed the people whom he hung around, and I wasn’t surprised anymore of his behaviour. Not to make the same mistake twice, but I’m convinced that Heath’s friends were the jerks, it’s like a ‘Swear R Us’ where ever they are.
    Now I regret bashing him before my friends, frankly I’m ashamed to admit that I’d bash anyone at all and I’m working on that, what impression did I give to my new friends? That was then though, they got to know me more and we get along just fine. But I learned my lesson and that I just found that out, I’m not in a hurry want to look back on the high school me, but I assure you I wasn’t really bad, almost the same as I am now but a little wiser.

    As the ago old saying goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, it’s just bad that most of the time we just don’t listen.

    When I think about it, life is so many things; as Victor Hugo had beautifully put it: Life is the flower for which love is the honey., it is also a tomb of a text book, split into different subjects, full of lessons that has to be learned, there are the optional courses but heavens help those of us who didn’t learn the compulsory ones, but even worse, the illiterate.
    The illiterate being the ones who just fail to learn from experience, the ones full of pride, the stubborn ones hitting their heads against a brick wall, and sadly enough the people who just don’t get it.

    Here’s to hoping we do our homework and staying awake in class (in more ways than one, if you know what I mean:)

    Cheers, Thomas 🙂

    • I sympathize with your mistake a lot, sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in how you perceive people and to rant about them and thus give yourself an unfavorable image… but the good thing is that you’ve learned from that incident and have grown wiser from it. I like to think that the same has happened for me, after what has happened here.

      Love how you included the quote from Victor Hugo, I should read Les Miserables but it’s just so big and intimidating. Good luck with your assignments and thank you as always for reading and commenting!

  2. … ”but I assure you I wasn’t really bad, almost the same as I am now but a little wiser.”
    I noticed I made yet another mistake, what I meant was … but I assure you I wasn’t really bad, almost the same as I am now but a less wiser.

  3. Cara

    I actually totally freaked out when I saw about the nutella thing. Don’t scare me like that! Ok anyways I’m fairly certain I’ve judged someone too harshly for something they did that may have not represented them as a whole person. I know I make mistakes all the time and so do other people and I have to remind myself that sometimes. I do know though that actions are a good indicator of people. You know the old adage, believe what you see not what you hear? I do think that applies still and though people may have difficult circumstances sometimes you do yourself more harm than good getting yourself involved. It all just depends on each situation of course.
    I’m glad you got to talk it out with your classmate. It’s good that you are a willing listener. Great post like always Thomas.

    • Yeah, that adage is true, and there’s also that one that goes something like “be careful of your thoughts, they become your words. Be careful of your words, they become your actions. Be careful…” etc. until action has become character and habits and what not. So I suppose it is good to take note of those things but not to get too judgmental or involved – and I’m glad I got it talked out too. Thanks for reading and commenting Cara!

  4. I think at some point I’d gotten to this conclusion about people. That I had to learn how to look beyond what they do, or how they’d think, and try to understand their position. Somehow this attitude has won me my friends’ liking. However, it can still be frustrating sometimes. It may be possible to understand why these people do those troubling things they do, but certainly there are times when you cannot always fully empathize with them. It’s not always possible. There would be times when it must take more than ‘understanding’ for them to realize and learn from their shortcomings and mistakes.

    • And also perhaps to keep your sanity intact.

      • That’s true… in a lot of circumstances it depends on the person’s position and their environment, but in certain cases it could just be the person themselves. And then, there’s nothing you can really do about it just by trying to empathize with them.

        Also, keeping my sanity intact does sound favorable. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  5. I agree with your post here. I can relate to it especially when I think of situations where I might have judged people or where people I love have judged me wrongly. I learnt this whole idea of not being judgemental some time back from personal experiences because I realized how this spoilt the best of relationships. There are numerous times when we don’t want to behave in a certain way but circumstances drive us towards doing just that. It is usually impossible to understand why a person does a certain thing unless you’re in that person’s position, unless you face the exact similar situations, unless you live that life!

    • Yes – sometimes, it’s just impossible to understand what someone is going through, no matter how hard you try to empathize with him or her. Judgments are not the best tool to use to maintain healthy relationships, as they can lead to ruin if utilized excessively.

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