196: Gettin’ real about judgment
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This is a ridiculously honest episode, and I’m gonna punt my way through looking like a real jerk because I think—to be blatantly honest—this is something we all struggle with. It’s something we all do.
The topic of “reverse judgment”, which is really a fancy way of saying we’re all a bunch of Judgey McJudgey Faces—came to mind last month when my hubby and I were headed to his co-worker’s fancy wedding. Now, to be clear, there was a little “stress” involved in attending this wedding—I didn’t find out we were attending until a couple weeks before, due to a work schedule miscommunication between husband and me.
Stress, you say? See, the wedding invitation had said floor length gowns and tuxes are appreciated, but not required. That was the first of several clues that this wedding involved a circle of people unlike the ones I normally run in, and imposter syndrome set in something fierce.
In other words, I don’t own anything fancy enough to wear to this wedding. And I’m not cool enough to attend.
And because of that, you know what else set in? Bitchiness. Judgmental bitchiness about:
- how much their wedding probably cost,
- how in the world could they afford it,
- OMG, Becky, they’re taking a honeymoon in Tahiti?
A few days before the wedding, I talked with a friend who was also attending the wedding to ask what she was going to wear, and my internal bitchiness continued. Y’all, I was NOT a mean girl in high school, but here I was, Ms. Farmish Homesteader, looking down the end of my nose at someone who chose to go all out for their special day.
What. That. Actual. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. Me?
And then it hit me: why do I care what they are doing with their wedding?
If they want to have a fancy wedding and go all out, why is that a problem for me?
Judgey McJudgey Face: We all do it.
Let’s be real here, fellow homesteaders/preppers/simple lifers/alternative livers/whatever elsers:
How is being nasty about someone wanting a really fancy wedding any different than someone being nasty to me that I, for instance, decided to homeschool my kids? Or raise pigs and butcher them myself?
I think sometimes when we live the simple life, we can be pretty judgey against those who don’t, especially when it comes to money or anything “fancy”. I mean, I know this thought flew through my mind during my Internal Farmish Mean Girl Tantrum: having a fancy wedding doesn’t mean your marriage is more legit.
But, y’all, I think we forget the opposite is also true: having a fancy wedding doesn’t mean your marriage is less legit.
If they’re happy having a super fancy wedding, why should that take up any more space in my brain than the time it takes me to get dressed to attend? Maybe instead I should be glad I was invited, glad my hubby wanted to take me out on a fancy date, glad I got to enjoy some cocktails that I didn’t have to make myself, and just congratulate them and wish them well on the path they’ve chosen to take.
Isn’t that what we all want? Well wishes for the path we choose?
We all choose our path
A lot of people in the Farmish community, especially those who lean libertarian or anarchist, will say they are all about choice and “you do you.” And yet how many of us also feel we need to comment on other people’s choices – ones that have zero to do with us?
We make choices that we feel work best for us, and then get annoyed when other people are judgmental about those choices—because geez, it’s our choice. But how often do we look at other people’s choices and do the same damn thing?
And how do we know we’re doing this?
Check your inner voice.
It’s that inner voice that sees the gal with really long nails checking out in front of me. And I start wondering how can she do anything with those really long nails and how much did she spend on those nails and how much time does it take her to keep those nails up, and she probably can’t do any manual labor with those really long nails because…. and before I realize it, I’ve had a snippy two minute conversation in my head about some gal I don’t know who chooses to have really long nails.
What does this have to do with me?
How does this affect my life?
This applies to more than what’s on the news
Here’s the thing I really want to point out. There are many people in the Farmish community who will take a look at the current world drama on the news and say, “I don’t pay attention to current new drama XYZ because it doesn’t affect my life.”
And yet, these same people drive home from an extended family holiday dinner, and that inner voice is going nuts, filling up the brain with, “Jimmy bought a new truck, Kathy decided to put her kids back in public school, Melanie is having ANOTHER baby, the last time I saw Paul he was with Matt and now he’s with Brian, and omg…”
Now, having an opinion is one thing. But letting stuff hang in the back of your head and create an inner dialogue that affects your mood and distracts you from productivity is something completely different. And I bring this up because I know we all do it.
Many of us don’t even realize we do it, but we all do it.
We’re scrolling on social media and we see someone’s pictures about the awesome trip they took to Hawaii or their kid who won some award and we have an inner dialogue that keeps coming back. We look at the way someone is approaching a project that has nothing to do with us and we have a completely made up one sided conversation about the tools they’re using, the money they’ve spent, the time it’s taking, and how we’d do it different (read: better.)
It’s how someone lives their life
I’ve had to learn that there are people in my life that do things I don’t do and that’s how they live their life and it shouldn’t take up space in my brain. That’s easy to say, because people often think it’s something simple, like person A eats a mostly meat diet and person B eats a mostly plant diet and they can get along, respecting the choice their friend has made about what kind of food goes into either of their bodies.
But “how they live their life shouldn’t take up space in my brain” also looks like this: people who say I want to do something and then make 100 excuses for why they can’t do it, all the while being completely hypocritical about the excuses they’ve made. And you watch it all happen, and it makes you absolutely insane.
Or, the person who says they don’t have any money, they’re really struggling to get out of debt, and “now these gas prices and inflation and man, I’m really concerned about making my rent payment…” and when you talk to them two weeks later? They’ve bought a brand new motorcycle…
You guys, that is HOW they are living their life and it shouldn’t take up space in YOUR brain. That commentary, that one sided conversation you’re having about their choices? It’s taking up space in your brain that could be used for more productive things.
Now they might ask you for advice. And the first time that’s great. The tenth time, you should probably say, “hey, I still stand by what I told you the first nine times.” But so often, we get wound up in the fact they’re not doing what they said they wanted to do, and we let that rent so much space in our head. And 99 times out of 100, it has zero to do with our life.
Remember how we talk about the drama on the news? “I don’t pay attention because it doesn’t have anything to do with me, and I’m going to focus on my own life.” Right?
Some of us are a little hypocritical….
Focus on yourself.
We care about how people spend their money, their time, what they do with their kids. Or we comment on, say, the house our niece moved into because it’s h-u-g-e and we don’t know how she’s going to keep it clean, let alone afford the mortgage payment.
Why do you care? How does it affect you? You’re not making her mortgage payment.
When the gal is all dressed up to the nines or spends a lot of money on hair and make up or if that guy goes to the gym every single day, why do you care?
You’ll say you don’t.
But then why does it take up space in your head?
If it’s not something you would do, it’s not something you would do. And that’s all the more it needs to be.
But as a society we also need to understand that saying, “that’s not something I would do” or, “I’ve chosen something different” is not a commentary on the validity of someone else’s choices. Me saying “I prefer to live in the country” doesn’t mean that people who live in the city are stupid, or less than, or whatever. It means I have reasons I prefer to live in the country.
And that’s all it is.
A bit o’ hypocrisy
Generally speaking, most people in communities like mine seem to have the most issue with this when it comes to people who are living large, famous, or people who have chosen to live a mainstream life.
It’s easy to get behind and support people’s choices and say “they can do what they want” when we think they’re digging into some kind of alternative to the mainstream, or they want to stick it to the man, or they are being controversial. But when someone chooses something that goes along with the status quo? Or makes them sparkle a bit? Gah! Cue inner conversation about the choices they’ve made.
Again, it’s real easy to say we don’t care what other people do.
But then why does it take up so much space in your head?
Does this actually affect me?
We can turn this into a big heady conversation and I think sometimes that’s actually the problem with this topic. We want to look at the big issues. But sometimes it’s a really good idea to look at how these things come into play in our daily life. That conversation with our mom. The post we saw our cousin make. That thing our coworker said.
When something is renting space in your head, when you’ve got that inner dialogue that starts a running commentary on the other person’s choices, the first question you should ask yourself is “does this actually affect me, and why do I care?”
And if you are anything like me, you’re going to find out there are a lot of things you need to kick out of your brain.
Why do I care?
And you know what? There might be a reason you care. It might be something that actually affects you. But as I’ve said before, if everything affects you and you care about everything, you’re way less effective and productive in the ways you can bring change your world.
Leave space in your brain and in your life for the things that do affect you. Leave space in your brain and your life for the things you do care about or feel you should care about.
The new car your neighbor bought probably isn’t one of those things.
Your sister wanting to go back to school again for another degree probably isn’t one of those things.
Back to the wedding, we did go and we had a great time. Hubby and I were actually some of the people who closed the place down. The wedding was beautiful, and get this, the couple had a great time in Tahiti!
So just remember, you have to be really careful when you say things like, “you do you”. Do you actually mean that?
And when we say, “I don’t let things rent space in my brain if they don’t actually affect me,” that actually applies to more than what’s happening on the news.
As you go out and about (or you’re scrolling online) pay attention to your inner dialogue and see what it’s picking up on. When it’s having a big ol’ conversation with itself (because now you will totally notice when this happens) ask yourself, does this affect me, and why do I care?
— Amy Dingmann, 3-22-22
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