Yesterday I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I started sniggering. I had landed on an image that someone I follow (but have never met in person) posted of their original artwork. I found it amateurish and obvious and basically basic. It was just the sort of art that I would never make and never share and I hated it, so I just laughed at it. But then I stopped myself.
A part about me I have never liked is that I’m a bit of a judgemental bitch. I don’t know whether it came from going to a highly competitive school or having very specific tastes and preferences I hold in high regard, but I just am quick to find things I don’t like about situations/people/places and judge them harshly (and mostly incorrectly) on that basis. It’s silly, and nasty and completely unfair but I never really acknowledged it as a problem until a few years ago when I got into a funk where pretty much anything I said/did/was was not good enough. I put a lot of pressure on myself and didn’t achieve a bunch of goals I had set for myself, and I thought I was hopeless failure. But in amongst my despair I got fairly introspective and I finally realised that that judgemental part of me (that I always just attributed to me having high expectations and good taste – hmm) was actually poisoning me from the inside out and making me judge and annihilate everything I was. It was brutal and destructive and so I realised that in order to try and stop hating on myself and everything I tried to do, I needed to start being kinder in regard to the people/places and situations around me. I started to check myself when my mind would leap to the first nasty conclusion. I tried pulling a Pollyanna and seeing the good and the noble in things. Often it felt trite. Often it felt like I was betraying my true, sassy and amusingly-critical self. But I kept at it.
I’m not saying I’m your regular Maria Von Trapp now – far from it. Sometimes it feels like being a bitch gives you character, but mainly it just gives you self-loathing and an insecurity complex. I certainly think that that awareness (and practices that promote awareness such as meditation and yoga) really helped me start to move towards a kinder and gentler space. Not only for those around me but also for myself.
So when I laugh at people’s creative exploits on social media (or their ugly outfits, or their poorly applied eye-brows,) I stop and I breathe, and I check myself. Who am I to judge? Aren’t we all just out there giving it a red hot go? And isn’t the bravery it takes to try tough enough without having some self-righteous stranger sitting thousands of miles away behind a backlit screen sniggering at your attempts? So be nice. God knows I’m/it’s trying.