When we see someone for the first time, we immediately come to several conclusions about them, many times without even speaking to them. Their body-type and clothing choices can lead us to, in some cases, some strong opinions about someone, even though we know nothing about them.
Pierced. Tattooed. Non-traditional hair color. Yeah, I know your story.
Overweight. Ill-fitting clothes. Unshaven. I know all about you.
I’m not suggesting that it’s okay to make a snap judgment about someone because of what they look like. I’m only saying that, on some level, most of us do that, at least temporarily.
Hopefully, even if you do find yourself doing that, you override that impulse. We’re all much more than a tattoo.
The same thing happens when people die unexpectedly. There’s a rush to judgment. You see this all over Facebook and Twitter after the death of Robin Williams this week.
With celebrities, it’s more difficult to keep from judging. We’ve all seen Robin Williams in so many things, we feel like we know him. Or knew him, that is.
He was in our homes in the 1970’s with “Mork and Mindy”, and then again last year with “The Crazy Ones”. And in between the two, he’s been in tons of movies. And we’ve seen him numerous times on with Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Stewart and Charlie Rose.
He was even on “American Idol” once!
We also all have our own ideas about suicide. And depression. And addiction. And even if we haven’t been personally affected by any of those things, we think we know what they are.
People say that Robin was a coward for what he did. Others say he was courageous and now he’s free. And others say he was selfish for doing this to his family and friends.
But none of us really know. And the truth is, we never will.
That doesn’t stop the talk, though. And with social media, it’s easier than ever to put your opinion out there. You can pass judgment and then others can agree or disagree, essentially judging your judgment. And so on, and so on.
I’m not going to pretend to suggest we stop judging. It would be nice, but I don’t think it’s possible.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. You shouldn’t feel that you aren’t allowed to express how you feel. Of course, you can always choose how you express those feelings, and you can decide if it’s genuinely how you feel, or if it’s just a gut reaction and might not be how you actually feel at all.
Like most, I have my own opinions about Robin Williams, what he may have been going through and why he chose to do what he did.
But at best, my opinions are just guesses. I didn’t really know him, or his family. And I don’t know what it was like to be Robin Williams in August of 2014.
I do wish his family healing, and I hope he has found peace. Beyond that, anything I’d add would just be conjecture.
So let’s talk about me.
Contrary to what some may say, I do know that everything isn’t always about me. No, really.
But I’m able to share things about myself with my friends and my family. I think they know me pretty well. They know I get cranky when I haven’t had enough sleep, or haven’t been to the beach in a long time.
They know I don’t eat the right foods, and that I don’t exercise enough, even though I do try to do both of those things (but not quite enough).
They know I want to change the radio station when we’re in the car and a song by Journey comes on.
And when I’m troubled by things big or small, I’m comfortable enough to share that. I don’t expect them to leap into action and solve all my problems for me, but I just want them to know where I am.
I’ve been surprised to learn that a lot of people have trouble doing this.
If you can tell someone that you love them, you should also be able to tell them if you’re happy or sad, if everything you touch is gold or turns to crap.
Can you share your hopes and your fears?
I think this is one of those things that can snowball on you. If you get into the habit of keeping everything to yourself, it just builds up inside of you and can overwhelm you.
And remember, it’s a two-way street.
You have to also be willing to listen.
And if you can, and you really should, try and do that without judgment. For some, opening up and sharing feelings is a scary thing, and if you judge them for it, it’s very easy for them to close back up and keep everything to themselves.
By the way, this is not meant to suggest that Robin Williams needed to share what was going on with him with his wife, kids, family, etc. He may have. I don’t know.
What I am saying, though, is that I’m lucky enough to be able to talk about what’s going on with me. And I hope those I talk to about that stuff feel the same way about talking to me.
We’re all in this together. Like a finely woven Psychic Tapestry.