Sunday, November 17, 2013

I'm Not So Superficial (Any More)

I kind of understand why we judge people, in general, on stupid surface things like looks, what music they listen to, what clothes they wear, what kind of car they drive, what their occupation is. It's a quick way to start sorting out whether or not we'd be friends.

But it drives me crazy. The people I've found with the biggest hearts and that I care about the most are the people I know little to nothing about most of those things. I, obviously, can know what they look like and what they wear, but I may not know much else. And none of that really matters to me.

Having money to buy expensive clothes or cars does not mean you have a heart that cares for others. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt and driving a car that looks like it needs a paint job does not mean that you don't care about anyone. Sometimes it just means that you've had some hard times and this is what you have right now.

When I was in 4th-6th grades, I had some fairly close friends that weren't popular. Sadly, I lost touch with them after 6th grade, so I have no idea where they are now, but they were better friends to me than I probably deserved. I loved them with all my heart, except when I got asked why I was friends with them by the popular kids. And then I was a bad friend and dropped them like a hot potato. And they kept forgiving me and taking me back when I pulled my head out of wherever I had stuck it and went back to actually being friends with my friends (usually within a few days). I feel terrible about it now. At the time, I just wanted to maybe be popular (because I was kind of stupid about what being popular meant).

But I had gravitated toward people with big hearts and lots of love and forgiveness for someone who was kind of stupid despite being so smart. People who believed in me and were fun to be around. And that shaped me, even when I was being stupid.

So now, I don't really focus much on what people wear, or what they drive, or what their favorite things are. At least not for judging if they would be good friends. Because I had friends that looked past any of that while I was learning that people who care about you are worth far more than people that sort of like you. Because I'd rather judge my friends by the content of their hearts than their interests. Because I can find people who are amazing and who bless my life by being in it without needing to share interests in tv or movies.

Part of that lesson came when in 7th or 8th grade I had a "friend" who one day just decided that she didn't like me any more. And then a few days later, she liked me again. But I was shut out of most of my group of friends because one girl didn't like me for no apparent reason. And I think it helped me realize what a bad friend I had been in the past. I gave that friend a second chance, but the friendship wasn't as close and when she decided that she didn't like me for no apparent reason again, I just gave up on the friendship. Not quite as forgiving as my friends a few years earlier had been (the time frame on my random self-conscious idiocy was closer to once a year, not twice in as many months, which probably helped them too). But I had already started figuring out who were the type of people that would care about me vs caring about themselves.

So, now a days, I try to not judge someone by superficial means. I am by no means perfect, but I'm getting better at it.

I hope to teach my children this without them having to go through what I did. I'd prefer their stupid decisions to be about something less likely to hurt people, especially the ones who truly care about them.

And to those friends, I apologize. I'm not sure I did that adequately when we were younger. You deserved someone being your friend who didn't randomly get ashamed about superficial things. I wish I had done better at that. Thank you so much for being willing to forgive me. I got better, but I never forgot that I was that person. I hope you found better friends as you grew up. Ones that didn't do what I did. Ones who loved you because of who you were and are. Ones who wanted good things for you. Thank you for believing in me enough to forgive me.
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