Tuesday, November 15, 2016
If you look on the internet, you'll find quotes attributed to several people, the gist of which is, "We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions."
I remember being young and just becoming aware of intangible ideas like intent, consequences, and responsibility. I'd behave in a way I knew was wrong, and I'd assume that the adults around me understood that I was enduring growing pains and judged me thusly, not taking any slights seriously and being able to more or less "read my mind." I was particularly adept at these assumptions when I was a teenager and certainly at the peak of brattiness. If I was rude to an adult, I assumed they knew that I was really a good person, and they "got" me.
I also figured that once I was grown, I would have the same empathy and wisdom that I ascribed to my parents, teachers, friends' parents, fellow drivers, and customers. "When I'm an adult, I will know what people mean, too."
I think a good example is in the car. For better or worse, I tend to be a timid driver. If I'm waiting to make a left turn onto a larger thoroughfare, I'll wait for what seems like awhile. I may miss an opportunity or two in my nervousness to pull out. If a car comes up behind me, I become a bit anxious. I don't want them to think I'm not paying attention, and I don't want them judging my depth perception or risk aversion. I want them to judge me by my intention not to die, to know that I'm just a timid driver and not a texter, and I even want them to remember that one time when I was a brand-new driver and the man behind me honked when I was pulling out, and it really hurt my feelings.
If I come to the same intersection and there's a car in front of me waiting to pull out, I try to send good vibes their way. Don't rush, be safe! I'm not back here judging you, the way others judge. DON'T FEEL JUDGED! And please, don't judge me for being behind you--I get you! I do! Remember that time the man behind me honked, and it really hurt my feelings? Don't worry, I won't do that to you!
I believe I was in my late twenties when I realized I never actually attained that wisdom, and I kept assuming that others still did. In fact, I was still thinking, "When I'm older, I will..." But I AM older! When will I get that wisdom?
I suppose, given the myriad attributions of the idea above, that very, very few of us ever do. But I guess we reach a point where we can at least try to be generous in assuming people's intentions.
I'm curious what y'all have to say about this, as well, especially because I'm not feeling particularly confident in my descriptions. Do you remember that childish feeling? Can you describe it better than I did? What about this grown up feeling? Does it ever come?