A few evenings ago, I pulled up to a stoplight and looked into the car on my left. There in the front passenger seat was a young woman. With a baby. On her lap.
I was riding alone so I can’t be sure, but I think I audibly gasped. I had a hard time looking away, as if my mind couldn’t process what I was seeing.
My righteous indignation sprung instantly to life. “What is she thinking?!”
As the stranger’s car turned left, I sat with my own hypocrisy (since I claim to be non-judgmental) for a few minutes and calmed my inner judge-y voice. I filled my mind with all the maybes – all the reasons why a person I don’t know might make a decision I’ve never had to make. Maybe she had to quickly leave a situation that was dangerous, more dangerous than no car seat. Maybe she was taking her baby to an incredibly important health treatment and had no transportation options. Maybe that ride was her only chance to spend the night in a place with an actual bed and air conditioning.
Maybe it’s not up to me to filter everyone else’s life through my own lens of experiences, especially given the seemingly bottomless well of options I have on any given day. Maybe.
I’ve declared hypocrisy the by product of trying to be a better Ashley, so I’m fully embracing it.
“I wish people were more patient” becomes “I really could use some work on my patience.”
“I wish people were more willing to listen to and learn from opposing voices” becomes “I’m gonna read this entire article/blog/book all the way to the end so I can better understand their perspective.”
“I wish people weren’t so quick to judge” becomes “I could work on remembering most folks are doing the best they can with what they have, where they are…and oh yeah by the way, Queen Ashley: you’re not the authority on living.”
“I wish I could have a conversation with someone who wasn’t always checking their phone” becomes “oh, crap.”
Changing the world sounded really fun, until I realized the best way to change the world is to change me. Oof.
I’m really glad we’re embracing self-love and self-care and self-help. I’m a huge fan of knowing my worth, feeding my soul, and seeking advice from wise gurus. But I also know, when rubber meets the road, it’s usually the un-fun activity of self-work that is the game changer. The quiet, day in, day out grind of being honest about who I am and committing to the habits that help me become who I’d rather be. It’s not sexy. It would make one hella boring Instagram account.
And if you’re wondering, my inner judge-y voice held its tongue for around 12 hours. That’s when I encountered the dude in QuikTrip wearing a legitimately obscene pornographic t-shirt. I had no maybes for him.