In the last few months, I've heard a lot of different people in a lot of different formats complaining about being judged on a lot of different issues. It was already on my heart. Then this commercial started making the rounds this week and gave me the push to write:
I don't like this commercial. Here's why.
I first want to acknowledge that there are some very judgmental people out there. I also don't know all the details of all those situations I mentioned above. But when I do know the details, almost invariably the person accused of judging hasn't actually said or done anything judgmental. The only thing they've done is make a choice different from the person feeling judged.
It's been my own experience that when I feel judged, it's usually my own insecurities being projected onto the other person. Since this post was motivated by a formula commercial, I'll give you that as an example. I was really committed to breast feeding. Due to my circumstances, I was physically unable to produce enough milk. I nursed and also supplemented with formula. When I nursed in public, I felt SO self conscious. I felt exposed, and was sure everyone thought I was being a shameful exhibitionist. Then when I pulled out a bottle, I felt guilty over not being able to provide all my babies needed. I was sure everyone was judging me for giving my children less than best. In reality, most people couldn't have cared less what I was doing. They were too busy feeling insecure about what *they* were doing.
Parenthood, and for that matter life, is full of difficult choices. It's often hard to know the right thing to do. I firmly believe we are all doing the best we can with our specific circumstances, strengths and weaknesses, family dynamics, with the information, resources, and support available to us. If my choice is different from yours, it doesn't mean one of us is right and one is wrong. It's just different. I've been working hard the last few years to own my choices, not to question them every time I see someone who chooses differently. I'm also trying to own my insecurities, to realize that my feelings of inadequacy are my own and not other people judging me.
So back to the commercial. I don't like it because it "confirms" our worst fears. The stay at home moms really do think you neglect your child by working away! The working moms really do think you're a useless waste of talent if you stay home! The breast feeders, the formula feeders, the home schoolers, the public schoolers, the cloth diaper-ers, the Western medicine-ers, they all really are judging you!
No, they're not. At least most of them aren't. And, in my opinion, the ones who seem most judgmental are often the most insecure in their own choices, and their "judgment" is really just defensiveness to convince themselves they really are doing the right thing. I like what this woman wrote: People don't think about you nearly as much as you think they do. So next time you feel judged, ask yourself, are they really judging me or am I judging myself? Am I just insecure? Or are they? And does it really matter what they think anyway?