Check out this article I wrote for NSPIRE.
By Tanya Uhrich
Looking around the world we live in, I can’t help but be in awe of it. What a beautiful place we call home. It’s quiet with a slower pace of life. Here in the Midwest, our lifestyle is very different than say someone living in New York. I imagine their life is very loud, crowded, and busy. But in reality, what if it is not? That is simply my perception of their lifestyle. We look at others, especially on social media, and instantly paint a picture in our minds of what their life is like simply based on the outside appearance and/or very first interaction with that person. This is my biggest and most heartbreaking lesson to ever learn. Not everything is as it seems. It took a very long time for me to understand outward appearances are not what we should base our thoughts on. It’s sad in our world that unfortunately, that can get you further in life. But at what cost?
When we are young we are groomed to always put our best foot forward and that not only applies to attitude but our appearance as well. So we do. We dress stylish perhaps not to stand out but to fit in. At home is the real you. Maybe skipping a shower while rocking your favorite pair of sweatpants and t-shirt with holes in it is more your style. It’s mine and I embrace it. I have more comfy clothes than work clothes. However, I rarely leave my home in my comfy clothes because I don’t want to be seen as a slob or someone that doesn’t take care of themselves. See! It is ingrained in us to portray a different ideal about who we are. Yikes!
We all see it. The perfect person with their life together. Every time you see them they are perfectly put together. Nice clothes, very well-groomed, obvious signs they work out, fancy car, and even the perfect partner with them. The perfect person that appears to have their perfect little life. We compare ourselves to them and some even adopt a trait from that perfect couple or even befriend them hoping for a rise in the social circle.
I love to watch people over time trying to guess their story because it is never what you expect. Being slow to judge or understand is a lesson that took me many years of practice. I heard a saying once that goes, “never judge someone because you know nothing about the battle they are facing.” I had to step out of my comfort zone to fully understand that. But when I did, it was like a light bulb went off in my head and I finally started to see people for what they truly are. Living day to day trying to be what society thinks they should be. Sure they have the fancy house or car. Sure they dress in the latest designer clothes. Sure they are beautiful with the latest hairstyle or even the latest plastic surgery. However, it comes at a cost. Mentally and financially it is a big cost. It makes me question why a person believes this makes them more likable. An ugly and mean personality can’t be covered up by a great body and perfect clothes. I have met some very beautiful people to only realize their ego was absolutely a nightmare to deal with. However, one has to get to the point in their life when they finally ask themselves the question of why they are so concerned about what others think of them before they even gain a little perspective into themselves. They could be in debt beyond what they can ever pay back or they are in a horrible relationship with lots of fighting at home. We don’t see that part of their perfect life until it finally explodes. Then we learn details of their struggles and finally feel like we can understand them. We have or will go through some of the same struggles and can relate to them. That is when a person becomes more human to us. When they are simply themselves, good or bad.
The same goes for someone looking for a job. They say all the right things on the phone when contacted for an interview. Their resume is very good with all your needs for the position. Then they show up and for twenty minutes or so they put on their best appearance and most professional attitude all to impress the company because they need the job. Great, you hire them based on this very brief encounter with them. Six months later you finally see who they really are after they have become comfortable within your company. Nothing like the first interaction with them. Perhaps they are lazy and do the bare minimum to keep the job. They don’t show any motivation in the current position or they show too much by trying to be the boss. This is you’re a-ha moment. Now you understand why they might have had so many jobs in the past and start to hear the real reason they are no longer at another company. Adding insult to injury you learn that they paid a resume writing company to manufacture their perfect resume. As far as I am concerned, hiring anyone to write a resume for you shows your lack of effort or lack of knowledge. Red flag for me.
My point is this. We don’t really know anybody until times of trouble in their lives. Most project an ideal family and career life but it always has a backstory we don’t see. When I see someone dressed immaculately I ask myself, why? Why do they feel that makes them more attractive or likable? So then I go down a rabbit hole of questions I consider I need to make to myself before I realize I am doing it too. Comparing myself. Everyone’s battle is on the inside with themselves. I am not implying people who take extra steps in their appearance are bad so don’t come at me with that. I am simply trying to understand their battle. The more we understand the more receptive we are to not judge them or ourselves for that matter. Every single one of us compares ourselves to someone else. It either makes us feel better or worse about ourselves. But to the wise, it does neither because you can’t even try to understand someone else’s story until you take yourself out of it. It has nothing to do with you. Their battle is with themselves and yours is with you. Let all of us please stop comparing ourselves assuming everyone else’s life is better than our own. Nobody has a perfect life. It’s just a lie we feed into because it is everywhere around us. Step back, stay in your lane and live your own life. Don’t hide your battles from the people that matter to you. Showing you are a mess might help them understand it’s okay for them to be a mess too. We all say, “no judgments,” but how many of us mean it? Imagine a world where we meant it. It would be amazing. So before you do judge someone, stop and ask yourself a couple of questions. Is appearance enough for you to assume you know this person? Or them you? Does appearance make a better relationship? If you think it does, try online dating. We swipe based on just the appearance. We haven’t even met or spoken to that person and we base the right or left swipe on appearance with no regard to anything else. I think that is the first indication you are no better than anyone else seeking validation from others. Try something new! Don’t seek validation from anybody else. Be who you truly are so you can be comfortable in your life, not uncomfortable trying to be what you are not.
If you have a topic suggestion you would like me to explore please email me at uhricht@gmail.