Life is inherently full of judgments. That person looks strange. How can they eat that! Oh, they are from ___(place)__ than you must like to ___. Consciously or not, we are constantly judging, making assessments of people and situations, and reacting by changing our behavior or actions. While id like to think i do not, whether i verbalize them or not, i am just as bad as the rest. This does not make me a bad person, close minded, or sheltered, it is natural, normal, and expected when you lead a life where you are constantly encountering new things. It is what you take from these judgments, what you learn, how you act in response, and how you share about your experiences with others that determines how people will see you.

My dear friend and travel companion Mariah Streck challenged me to push myself when it comes to judgments. She said “everyone person you judge, you must then go up and talk to.” I have taken this suggestion to heart and here is what it sounds like in my head: “I can’t believe that young pretty Thai girl would want to be with that old British man…shit, darn you Mariah, now I have to go talk to her.” Or, “Why would the long neck tribespeople do something so painful for aesthetics to their body…oh no here we go again.” Sure enough each person has their reasons, their ways of finding happiness, and concurrently their own judgements about others–it’s human nature. I know that I have been the subject of numerous judgments when they find out I’m from California: no i dont surf, i dont smoke weed, and i do not spend all day on the beach tanning…it blows their minds. This challenge means I spend much longer getting from point A to B as I stop to talk to people. Nights out at a bar mean talking to even those that look angry, or strange. I have learned so much because of it. My 1.5 hour walk in the mornings is filled with stories of locals and their struggles, old men who really did want to hit on me like I thought haha, and new friends I made through unforeseen circumstances. So I am choosing to embrace these judgments I make instead of pretend like they don’t happen–at least this way something good can come from them.