One of the ironies about our kind of crazy society is that, while our society is addicted to change—-we’ve developed the inability to sit still for an hour without checking our constantly updating Facebook and Twitter feeds, need the newest and latest gadgets, the trendiest new clothes,prefer instant gratification whenever possible, and are generally not into developing friendships and relationships that require too much work, thought, connection, or effort because those things are generally “downers”—at the same time, we’re afraid of it. We judge it, we condemn it, but mostly, we fear it.
This thought came to mind when reading a post on Gala Darling’sblog this week about being unafraid of the things that aren’t working for you. Today, this article, Lizzy Grant Vs. Lana Del Ray, reinforced the need for this blog.
Somehow, for all our society’s conspicuous consumption and attempts to be different and unique, we’re really challenged by non-conformity and changing things up, enough to hate people when they do it. If you decide to change your name or decide to keep certain details of your personal life private, you’re a shady person—potentially a criminal, a weirdo, or at least, someone with a deep, dark secret. If you pick up and move to a new city to start a new life, new job, new circle of friends, you must be running from something. If you change your image, it’s because you’re a fake, a fraud, an attention-whore. If you lose or gain weight, everyone you know talks about your potential eating disorder, rumoured lipo, or how you must be in a terrible relationship that’s allowed emotional eating to destroy your body, or are pregnant and hiding it. The list in which people judge change goes on and on.
Yet, if you decide to have your nose re-shaped or your breasts enlarged, nobody says a word…at least to your face. This kind of change is common, to be expected.
The fact of the matter is, people dochange. They learn, they grow, they evolve. Especially if they’re of an artistic bent, they might represent this by changing their name, their hair colour, the way they dress, the personal choices they make. People might find what they’re doing unfulfilling, and change jobs, relationships, living situations, religions, and personal outlooks on life. And, yes, people do have secrets…things about their pasts, their personal lives, their relationships, their obstacles in life, the kinky, odd, or weird stuff they like when they think nobody’s looking. The weird thing? Even though almost all of us have these, so many of us think it’s our right to know about everyone else’s, and when we do, to spread the information to everyone we know.
Does it matter if Angelina Jolie is anorexic, or if she just likes working out? Does it matter if the neighbour down the street is an alcoholic, based on the number of wine bottles you see in the trash? Does it matter if a friend of yours partied like Courtney Love at some point in time? Does it matter if your co-worker who never talks about her family does so because she cut ties and started a new life a long time ago?
It matters, to the people involved. If it doesn’t affect you, it’s none of your damned business.
People put out there what they want the world to see. Lady Gaga tells the world her real name, that she’s a college drop-out, that she worked at a strip club in the Village before getting discovered, that everyone thought she was a freak in high school—-and still, nobody cuts her any slack for her openness. On the other hand, there’s a slew of celebrities, usually female, making a living off of an image—and when any details about that real person come to light, it’s scandalous. That person is to be judged because we all believed in something fake. That person didn’t tell the truth about who they were.
It’s ridiculous, because we live in a world that wants the image. You put the truth out there, in un-sugar-coated form, you find yourself ostracised, or ridiculed, or worse. People have died for being “too different”. Among teenagers in our society today, the pressure to be an image rather than a person is unbearable…and when the truth comes out about who or what a person really is, you have 12-year-olds committing suicide.
If you know me well, you know I’ve lived through a bit of this judgment and controversy and ostracism and gossip. I know first-hand what it’s like to have everyone judge you because you didn’t tell them things about yourself they weren’t close enough to you to know in the first place, and you kept things to yourself for fear of being judged in exactly the way that happened.
That’s all taught me some valuable lessons about life. What you see is what you get, but you’re not entitled to get everything. If you want the image that you find amiable, fun, and entertaining, that’s great. We’ll have that kind of friendship. If you want to get to know the real person with secrets and experiences and stories, well, you have to invest yourself. In life and in friendship, trust is earned. The more you truly get to know someone, the more that person opens up to you. If you’re not the kind of person who shows interest in bonding with others on any kind of deeper level, don’t be surprised when others never bring up deep shit.
Most of all, don’t judge others on things you’re just not entitled to know. The information-overload age gives this impression that we’re all entitled to know everything about everything, and to pass judgment appropriately. We’re not, and doing it now is no different than 1960′s suburban housewives gossiping and ostracising over their bridge games. (Yes, I did just see “The Help”.)
If someone wants to re-invent their image, or even work on changing the real person inside, that isn’t shady, and it isn’t fodder for rumour or gossip. If someone engages in a lifestyle you don’t understand or has a problem you don’t relate to, it doesn’t make that person inferior to you, or deserving of your ill-informed personal judgement.
Of course, this is all a reflection on my personal judgment, so a little bit of hypocrisy there. I have freely admitted to having a problem judging those who spend their time judging others.
Personally, if someone is expressing who they are and sharing their vision of the world at that point in their life, I’m all for every change they wish to make. That’s not inauthenticity or hiding the real truth, that’s growing and evolving and exploring. If you’re not doing that, you’re simply existing. I don’t know about you, but I would never choose “simply existing” over everything this world has to offer. How boring is *that*?