Most of us are judgmental, myself included. We automatically come up with assumptions and opinions of things we are witness to, a lot of the time before we have even thought about it with any sense of rationale. We cannot help it. I cannot help it, despite the fact that i have huge anxiety issues.
My anxiety focuses a lot on what people think of me. I have massive social anxiety. Whenever i am out in public, i panic. If i am with someone else, this distracts me massively and i am fine. But when i'm on my own it is traumatic to say the least. My mind is constantly going, wondering what people are thinking.
Anxiety can manifest itself in an infinite number of ways. There is no single type of behaviour that sufferers display. It affects us all differently. To the blind eye, it can conceal itself as anything.
The ignorant mother at the toddler group. The one who never speaks to anyone, never takes any notice of what others are saying, comes across as rude and stand offish, doesn't interact with any child apart from her own.
The lazy work colleague. The one who never seems to really do anything, who says they are happy to do things but never does them, who constantly frustrates you with their inability to pull their weight.
The rubbish friend who always backs out of plans at the last minute, despite how enthusiastic they seemed when you were initially making those now cancelled plans. The one who never seems to make an effort, who you know isn't particularly reliable, who you never really hear from, then all of a sudden they are your best friend again.
The weird girl you are stood behind in the que in Costa. The one who is sweating profusely, disgustingly, yet it is the middle of December. The one who trips over her words when she orders.
The selfish parent who never seems to have anything good to say about their child, who never shows an interest in their child, whose only concern seems to be with themselves.
Things aren't always as black and white as they seem.
Replace all of the words in bold with anxious, and therein lies the explanation for those behaviours.
That mother isn't ignorant, she desperately wants to talk to you but she is worried she will say something stupid and embarrass herself. That colleague isn't lazy, she just doesn't believe that she is capable of doing whats being asked of her, she has to use all of her energies to focus on getting through the day without breaking down. That friend isn't rubbish, she hates herself for cancelling on you yet again but she just isn't strong enough right now to go through with it but as soon as she is she will be your best friend again, and the cycle will repeat. That girl isn't weird, she is counting to 10 in her head over and over and desperately trying to stave off the panic attack that is threatening to happen at any moment. That parent isn't selfish, she just has no confidence in her ability to look after her child, she is deeply affected by her traumatic birth and no one has offered her any support, preventing her from bonding with her child properly.
I don't want to be seen as any of those words written in bold, but i can almost guarantee that i have been, and in some cases i probably still am. These are the kinds of labels we put on people who behave this way. We are just too quick to judge and assume.
Anxiety has stripped me of almost all of my confidence in every aspect of my life. I, like so many other people in the same situation, have perfected this mask of mine that i wear day in day out. The one that tells me to get through each situation as best as i can.
The point of this long winded rambling post is just to remind myself and you to try and look beyond the obvious. Don't write off that mother at toddler group who never speaks, or that friend who always cancels last minute. None of us have any idea of what internal battles the next person is dealing with. None of us have been in another persons shoes, none of us know how someone else thinks and feels.