The other day I spent a few hours waiting for the Sky man to arrive to sort out our internet connection. He had been in the house only a few minutes before he commented on my job, making a judgment on the amount of money I must make.
It played on my mind. I could not help think this was actually quite rude and judgemental. I was still playing it over my head that night and it had really stuck with me. If I had not heard comments like this before I suspect it would not have played on my mind so much, but it led me to think about why people think it is OK to make comments like that, just as we know it is not polite to comment on someones weight or age, do we really think it is OK to comment on someones income in such a way?
My profession gets a lot of judgment. Most people see their dentist as a money makers. And I guess in a lot of cases you are probably not wrong. Take the bank, we rarely look at a bank without cynicism. When I watched the new Lloyds advertisement the other day, showing me how much they were there for me and my family I wanted to believe it, I thought it would be nice to live in a world where you know your bank will look after you in times of struggle. Would it not be nice to know that your insurance company would pay out if your house burnt down and not worry about the small print and the clauses which they will act upon to try and get out of it.
I don’t do my job for money. Let me repeat that; I do not do my job for money. I fell into it, and money is a side effect of that. Of course I am not Mother Teresa, I need to make money, I want to provide my daughter with things I didn’t have the privilege of when I was younger. Is that so bad?
I do this job for enjoyment, for the difference I make. If I won the lottery tomorrow I would set up a not for profit clinic which would provide smile transformations to those who cannot afford it. In fact as I type this I realise this is something I need to work towards in the future regardless of wether I win the lottery or not.
Judging people is one of our biggest downfalls. It is why as humans we cannot get along. The fear of being judged is restricting us from being who we want or need to be. We are scared what people will think of us. We are worried what people will think of us if we reveal our true sexuality, we are worried about discussing religion and worried about our weight. So we avoid putting ourselves in social situations, where we are worried what people will think of us based on our weight, attire and if we cannot answer their questions.
What if one day you left all those feelings of worry on a bench somewhere? When you stood up you stopped giving a shit about what people thought. What would achieve? What would you do differently? And if you stopped worrying about why people may be judging you do you perhaps think you may stop judging others.
I do not look at someone overweight in the gym and think badly of him (which is what he is most likely thinking people think of him) I think good for you. I would not judge the mother in McDonalds with her five children screaming the place down, for one I too am in McDonalds and who am I to judge what she is feeding her kids. Secondly if I had five kids I cannot imagine ever leaving the house again good for you girl. And I most certainly would not judge someone based on the state of their teeth, because if I can properly assess that, they are in my chair and they are doing something about it. No one is perfect, not even you, so lets stop acting like we are.
It is naive of me to think we could live in a world where everyone acts this way, however I do not think its so naive to consider surrounding myself with people who want to live like this. If Simon Sinek and his TED talk on finding your why has reached over 35 million viewers, I must hope on some level a good proportion of us want to think this way, and want to find their why. If you knew why you went to work in the morning, and that why was not because you have to work or because you need money (of course most of us have to work and need money) but that you went to work because you wanted to and it just so happened that you also get to make that money you need, at the end of the day would we not all be happier, better at our jobs and more compassionate.
All too often I see judgemental behaviour. I am judged as a young woman and I am judged as a dentist. For example, it is often presumed as a young woman I lack experience, do not know what I am doing, and I cannot recall number of times I have had to joke about there being a man in the cupboard who comes out whenever I need help extracting a tooth!
I have seen people judged because they claim benefits. I see people judged on their religious beliefs. I see them judged as they have three children and three baby daddies. I just wonder what the fuck all that is about. What do you know about someones circumstances behind their current social benefit needs, what do you know about that woman who has found herself in love and with a child only to realise that relationship was not all she thought it was. Who are we to judge which god someone believes in? Who are we to judge how much money someone does or does not have.
Thinking this way has huge benefits for me. Since I stopped caring what other people thought of me doors have opened, both in my personal and professional life. I have always tried to not be judgemental of others, and don’t get me wrong I am not perfect with this, I have had to have words with myself, but not judging people I believe makes me a great friend and family member, and I certainly believe it makes me a better dentist.
Behaving a certain way is difficult, just by saying you will no longer judge others does not mean you will do it every single minute of the day. Just as saying you are going to go to the gym five times a week does not mean you will get off your arse and do it. Behaviour is a daily challenge, and one you have to keep reminding yourself of. You will lapse, we all will, but if we all made more of an effort to act in this way I have no doubt we would be happier, healthier and much better people.