Smoke and Mirrors

It’s really hard not to judge a book by its cover…or it’s title…or it’s self-description. But  I try. Sometimes.

I know that I judge some of my friends, because they don’t understand things that I understand all too well. I know that I’ve judged my absolute best friend in the world, and I also know that she’s judged me. Penny and I had that “Come to Jesus talk” that best friends have when judgement overwhelms the friendship, and we survived with flying colors. I can’t speak for sure on her behalf, but I know that I haven’t judged her since a series of e-mail messages started by a blog post entitled “I Didn’t Enter a Beauty Pageant, I Don’t Need to Be Judged.” The string of messages eventually led to us realizing that we both only wanted what was best for the other, and that neither of us really understood certain aspects of the others’ lifestyles. I believe that at that moment, our friendship became stronger.

The hardest thing for me to not judge is when people have never had to struggle to stay afloat. People who don’t understand having nothing. I’ve been completely flat broke. I’ve gone 6 months without a job. I’ve struggled to pay my tiny set of bills. I’ve claimed BK and survived it. I have been without health insurance for several years at a time. I grew up behind a world of smoke and mirrors in which my family appeared to have a decent amount of money, but really it was just that…an illusion.

Not that I ever wanted for anything that I needed. My family blessed me with love and affection in addition to countless memories of a really amazing childhood. Our family vacations were often small, but frequent (weekend camping trips, nights in hotels because Mom worked for a hotel chain). We did have several big family vacations–I was lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World 4 times before I went away to college. Credit will do that for you. But there were also times that we ate Ramen, Kraft Blue Box, or whatever else was on sale, out of necessity. I know many people who will never know that.

Or so I think. No one knew we were on the lower end of the middle class. The smoke and mirrors provided an excellent facade for everyone. So maybe I’m judging books by their covers. Maybe there are more smoke and mirror situations than I could ever imagine.  And so I stop. And think. And try really hard to quit judging.

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