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Youth Opinion: Judging and being judged in Squamish

'We will judge, but we should remind ourselves to give ourselves a chance to know others and not just rely on our stereotypes and assumptions.'

As a teenager, you’re constantly worried about being judged while judging others around you.

The fear of being judged can affect someone’s everyday life.

The more you judge others, the more you’re likely to assume someone is judging you, and the media is a big factor in this.

We all know judging is not healthy but it is all around us, from poking fun at a politician’s speech or a celebrity’s facial expressions to criticizing someone else’s choices.

But are we obligated to judge? The simple answer is no.

Without knowing someone’s situation or circumstance we can never make a truthful assumption.

As a cashier, I would occasionally judge customers coming to the register as to whether or not they’ll be nice customers, and I have been wrong several times in my assumptions. There have been a couple of times that I’ve judged by facial expression or body language that they will be a difficult customer but it turned out they were very pleasant.

When you first meet someone it’s common to make assumptions about them, judging the way they’re dressed, talk or even look to place characteristics on them before getting to know them, and most of the time the assumptions are not accurate.

Sometimes, we judge without being aware that we’re even doing it.

Judging is human nature, and everyone is a little judgmental sometimes.

Judging someone else can cause people to not understand that person’s point of view or situation, so judging becomes like building a wall around you from understanding or trying to. We tend to make assumptions about people we don’t understand or agree with, but doing so can hold you back from getting to know other cultures, backgrounds, or beliefs.

But it’s not just teenagers who judge and feel judged, lots of people struggle with this. Mothers judge mothers, friends judge friends and strangers make assumptions about strangers, and by doing this we get further and further away from each other.

We might see a person with a tattoo on their face and walk to the other side of the road, see a mom not stopping their acting-out child and think she’s a bad mom.

We might see a woman who can’t form a full sentence to order tea and get mad that we have to wait in line longer.

What we might not know is the man with the tattoo is a father on his way to his kid’s school, that mom is a single mom who just finished an eight-hour shift and has no energy to deal with her acting-out child, and that lady who is trying to order a cup of tea doesn’t have English as a first language and now can’t even buy herself a cup of tea without being critiqued.

We will judge, but we should remind ourselves to give ourselves a chance to know others and not just rely on our stereotypes and assumptions. This way, we all can try to be open-minded and build a stronger, more diverse, and friendly community.

Kiana Alai is a local teen and member of the Squamish Youth Council.

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