Judgment can get in the way of a lot of things. In this case, it almost prevented Elle and me from becoming friends and co-collaborators.
Because we both write for a living, people in our small community assumed Elle and I knew one another. If truth be told, we avoided meeting like the plague. Instead, based on hearsay, we were critical and judgmental of one another.
Our thoughts were similar: Writer. Hmm. Sure. Of what? Letters to the editor? Trash novels? Who cares? As a result, neither of us wanted to make the first move. Instead, we continued to live our somewhat parallel lives. Right right around the corner from one another. Until a dreadful accident, a hairdresser, and a yard sale brought us together.
The year was 2003. Elle and her husband were celebrating their first wedding anniversary on the northern California coast. They were at the beach when Elle was caught by a rogue wave and hit in the head by a log. It was serious and required several days in the ICU.
How did I know this? Turns out we had the same hairdresser. While Deb was cutting my hair, she told me about her client, a writer (yes, that writer) who by the way lived in my neighborhood, and was recovering from a horrible accident.
By nature, I am a compassionate person, and for the first time, it occurred to me that just maybe this writer, who almost drowned on her first wedding anniversary, was someone I should meet. So what if she didn’t write anything I’d want to read? She had survived a near-death experience and lived to tell the tale, and she was my neighbor! Maybe it was time to push judgment aside.
Fast forward a couple of months. It’s a Saturday. I’m in the kitchen and my husband comes in from outside to tell me there’s a really good yard sale around the corner. And by the way, the woman who is having it is a writer. So, a few minutes later, I amble around the corner and Elle and I finally meet.
Here’s what I remember: Elle was nice, funny, smart, and I liked her right away. As a bonus, my husband was right. She was selling some good stuff, and as I recall, the prices were good.
Fast forward to the next week or so. I’m walking my Golden retriever around the block and I see Elle walking in front of me with her Golden retriever. We have matching dogs! Despite knowing she’s someone I would like to know better, for a moment, I let judgment get the best of me.
Unlike me, Elle is dressed to the nines—red skirt, black high-heeled boots, and some sort of awesome leather jacket. I’m in my usual—jeans, sweatshirt, and running shoes. I’m somewhat intimidated, but I figure, what the hell. We’re neighbors. Let’s be friends. My Golden and I catch up, and by the end of the walk, it was as if Elle and I had known one another for decades.
How has judgment of yourself or others stopped you from making friends or enjoying more of your life? What could you do to overcome this situation?
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