I regularly stumble across the fact that I make a lot of assumptions and inferences. Some are harmless enough but some are really unfair and potentially damaging. Example: for years I assumed that a child causing a ruckus in Target had parents that were lazy and inconsiderate. Then I had a child, lol. And at some point prior to that, also learned about autism, sensory processing disorders and the like. Granted, some parents of kids who act out are lazy, inconsiderate people. But some are crazy-amazing human beings with endless love and patience. They are better people than I am because, honestly, when my kid freaks in public my biggest concern is that people DON’T think I’m inconsiderate or lazy – not what my child’s needs are. Those crazy amazing parents often don’t give a hoot what you think of them – they are sorry to be annoying you, but they mostly are in it for the long haul and they’re focusing on the baby steps of helping their child make his or her way in this difficult, judgy world.
Still, my assumptions abound. I assume if you love Disney, you don’t think about the weird male/female roles they have historically promoted. I assume that if you’ve had plastic surgery you’re a narcissist. I assume that if you like Joel Osteen your IQ is below average. I assume if you like the band, Nickleback you have astoundingly poor taste. (Don’t hate me! I know these are totally unfair!!! Except the Nickleback thing. That’s just truth.)
But when I challenge my own thinking, I discover that I have smart, thoughtful friends who deeply enjoy Disney magic. (And I have to admit that I have had a seriously great time on my handful of Disney excursions.). I know generous, others-centered ladies who have had boob jobs. And I just learned recently that weird, creepy Joel Osteen basically rescued one of my favorite people with hope when she was spiritually drowning.
I still get an icky feeling when I see a Joel Osteen quote. I still wrestle with Disney as a brand and how much I care or don’t care about what it may or may not communicate to my kid. (Brave was pretty cool, honestly.) I still think that plastic surgery is an odd way to spend one’s money.
But how I’m growing is that I’m learning more and more how to accept and respect the fact that just because someone comes to a different conclusion than I do – this doesn’t mean I’m necessarily seeing the issue for what it is and they’re not. I may have some wisdom and information and perspective that is valuable. In many cases, I could likely “win” in a debate about it. And I might even be right. But I’m learning to put the brakes on my tendency to take a tiny bit of data and extrapolate, drawing broad conclusions.
Having cancer is terrible. But it focuses my thinking – when your life is threatened by something, you start considering how you’re spending your time and brain space. I might not have the 50 years that most 35 year olds assume they have left to grow into an old, wise, kind person. (And actually…you might not, either – someone is going to get hit by a bus, you know?) So, I’m truly considering how I think and act in an effort to get rid of the crap that is in the way. And the best part? When I beat this thing, I’ll be like an awesome 85 year old’s brain and heart in a 30-something’s body. And I will still judge you for liking Nickleback.