Eating pizza in Asia

How I’ve learned to (almost) stop being a judgmental fuckwit

I assume a lot of things about people. I tend to think that my way is the only way. It’s been a problem at work and it’s been a problem in my personal life. You may not have noticed it, you may dislike me because of it, either way it’s always going to be part of my personality. Being judgmental doesn’t have to be a weakness, it can actually be quite a strength when used in the right way. Being conscious of your own personality traits makes it easier to ensure that you are in control of the person you want to be. However, knowing that you’re a judgmental person doesn’t mean that you are always able to stop yourself from doing it when you’re constantly meeting new people.

While travelling I’m sharing the experience with many other people, which means I’ve been able to take some time and question some of my initial judgments. If, like me, this can sometimes be a problem for you I have compiled a handy list of things that I have been too quick to judge about other travellers, and some of these are things that people have been too quick to judge about me. I’ve mainly written them down to remind myself to stop being a judgmental dick.

  1. The people sat in a hostel on laptops, when you think they should be going out, might have been out the last three nights and are catching up with things they love to do, like speaking to family, editing photos and blogging. It doesn’t mean they are boring people.
  2. The people who are sleeping all day could have just arrived. They might be suffering from jetlag and you have just forgotten what it feels like because you’ve been travelling so long. It doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing the place you’re in.
  3. The younger people who are drinking loads and acting a bit boisterously are just having fun. They could be the friendliest people you will meet. It doesn’t mean they will ignore you if you try to join in.
  4. The people eating pizza in a Thai food stall could have been travelling and sampling Thai street food for three weeks. You have just caught them when they were craving something different, similarly to when you order Thai once every couple of months at home. It doesn’t mean that they are missing out on the great local cuisine.
  5. The people who say they don’t like the place they are in, even though you love it, are entitled to their opinion because not everyone enjoys the same cup of tea. It doesn’t mean they don’t like travelling.
  6. The couple who have booked out a double room probably haven’t done that the whole time they’ve been away. It doesn’t mean they are wasting their money or looking down on people who stay in dorms, they could have been travelling for eight months and just want a bit of personal space.
  7. The couple who have checked into your ten-bed dorm could be doing it because they are on a budget and because they want to experience travelling by meeting new people, just like you do. It’s could be quite fun to talk to them, they are individual people too and, believe it or not, couples also like to have friends.
  8. The older person sat near you probably does want to tag along on the night out you’re organizing. They might not be 21 anymore but it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy talking to people and going out on the lash (do you still say that or is it too 90s?).
  9. The person with a distressed look on their face isn’t being mardy and overdramatic in an attempt to gain attention. They might have had a passport stolen, or it might be as simple as plans having to change, but when you’re travelling for so long it’s unlikely that you will be happy all of the time. It doesn’t mean that you should avoid them for the duration of your stay.
  10. The person wearing the Thai backpacker pants might have had to buy them to adhere to dress codes while visiting many of the Buddhist temples in the country. It doesn’t automatically make them a clueless, dickhead backpacker.

When it comes to challenging my initial judgments and prejudices I’ve taught myself to stop and think, why is someone behaving in that way? Explore all the possibilities, don’t just go with your initial feeling. You can’t read minds, and therefore you can’t decipher how someone feels or why they have made the choices they have. There are a million explanations for why something is happening, and while it’s natural to apply your own experiences to explain it, just don’t. When you realise this is happening it’s much easier to stop yourself from doing it. It makes you a friendlier person and you have a better time as a result. Hopefully I can start applying this in other areas of my life when I return home. Most of you probably know this already, but don’t judge me for taking so long to work it out.

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