Assume Nothing

I was thinking about the assumptions that people make about others – specifically people they don’t know.

Having an invisible disease, I’m very much aware of the fact that what I do and say sometimes doesn’t indicate that I’m fighting for my life each and every day. People who know, but maybe don’t have the details, assume I’m cured. People who don’t know may wonder why I’m not working; why I close my eyes and pause when I can’t find words that used to just slip out of my mouth; why I forget to return phone calls, emails, or complete action items; why it seems like I’m ignoring people when our surroundings are overstimulating; why I have multiple reminders/alarms on my phone for things I do EVERY SINGLE day, but would forget if it weren’t for the reminders/alarms.

I’ve occasionally wondered what it would be like to be someone else. Specifically random people I see on the street. Maybe that’s weird, maybe everyone does it, I don’t know. But knowing what my life is like, I wonder what theirs is like – to experience living in someone else’s world for awhile. But wouldn’t it be interesting to see the world through someone else’s eyes? What choices have they made about what to do for a living? What political/social/religious views do they have and why? What would it be like to excel in areas that we stink at in our own lives – like speaking 2 or more languages fluently, skateboarding without risking life or limb, singing without making the dog howl… Or experiencing more serious things like having a mental illness, making the decision to pay rent or buy food for your family this month, feeling ostracized for being ‘different’ in the eyes of others.

So, while we are quick to make judgements about others – and we ALL do – maybe we should pause and think about what it might be like in their world. Don’t assume that mother with 3 children under 6 who’s lost her patience and yelling is a bad person. Maybe she’s exhausted and just really needs a break to take care of herself for a couple hours. Don’t assume that the quiet guy in your building is reclusive and perhaps mentally unstable. Maybe he’s an introvert and has a hard time initiating conversations and is working out an engineering challenge in his brain while he gets his mail. Don’t assume that the tattooed guy driving by your house in his jacked up truck is a self-centered ass – maybe he’s a giving person who has a happy family, but has an affinity for big trucks and body art. Appreciate his cautious driving down your block and the wave he offers each day.

Don’t assume you know someone based on the way they look or their actions in a single shot of their lives. Take the time to get to know them or at least consider what it might be like to live in their shoes and see the world from their eyes. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have them doing the same for you.

(Thank you Craig for the reminder and the inspiration)