A bite or the whole damned enchilada

Monday, November 12, 2012 Permalink

I’ve been struck by an interesting observation since moving to my new hometown. The fact that people we meet see us as who we are now – the person standing before them. We all do it: make judgements based on what we observe, often in a moment in time. It’s a rare person who can step back and realise that we are being only offered a glimpse of someone’s life, a snapshot if you like… in a long epic saga that will last (hopefully more than) four score years and ten.

Uckermark countryside

I’ve had to introduce myself to some new people since arriving at ‘The Bay”. Other residents in my 17-apartment complex; tradesmen popping in and out of my apartment to fix crap; or just people in shops (cos, you know I do talk to almost anyone about almost anything, right?)

Without fail we get to the point when I mention that I’ve just moved here. Which nearly always results in my fellow conversationalist feeling compelled to share a myriad of information about the place. Mostly I nod appreciatively, pretending to listen to what they tell me: we’re living in the best part of The Bay; traffic is better here than there; stuff about the tide and so forth.

The fact that my eyes glaze over is not a sign of my self-absorption and rudeness (truly and ruly!). It’s more that I’ve been coming to this particular town for 44 years now. As a kid (leaving 35km / half an hour away), we came almost every weekend to visit my Poppie and step-Grandmother who lived just a few hundred metres from where I am now. At Easter and other school holidays we stayed under their house. Later, when I started working I actually holidayed here in apartments on a few occasions. (Although it’s significantly busier than it was when I was a kid, it’s still much quieter than larger coastal towns near our capital city and in the north of the state.)

One day late last week I was heading off on a late afternoon walk and had a conversation with one of the complex’s managers.

He seemed shocked when I mentioned joining a gym. Distrustful almost. As if he didn’t believe that I was a gym-goer (although it has been the case for nearly two months!!!). I must confess that I do feel very unfit at the moment, but am pretty sure I haven’t completely gone to ruin in the last month or two. “How often did you go?” he asked suspiciously, obviously expecting for me to say, once a week or fortnight. My four times a week was met with surprise.

I realised he sees me unenthusiastically lumbering off for a walk and has decided that’s all I’m capable of doing.

What you see depends on what you're looking for.I’ve moaned before about how I’m perceived by some trainers – fat, chubby, unfit… and therefore unathletic or uncoordinated. They don’t know, and make no effort to learn, that I was once fit and healthy and excelled at many sports – well, many might be an exaggeration given I’m really only talking about basketball and netball. But they don’t know that I once exercised for five hours a day when anorexic. They don’t know that I have a deep-seated fear of shuttle runs and the like from obsessive coaches and training sessions when I was a teen.

They just see me as the person before them. A two-dimensional snap-shot. A bite… not the whole damned enchilada.

The change of scenery and meeting of new people means that I’m confronted with a whole heap of judgement from others at once (be it negative, positive or indifferent) which is why it’s been a bit confronting.

It is something, however, that we all do. Every day.

Of course sometimes this can work in our favour. My gregarious and seemingly-efficient ‘front’ means that people often believe I’m more interesting and intelligent than I surely am. I worry that once they spend a bit of time with me, they’ll realise how wrong they are!

I’m pretty sure I’ve made assumptions about some of the people I’ve met based on a second or two of meeting them. In fact it’s hard NOT to judge; to allow some subjective thought to pop into our mind. But perhaps it’s useful to reflect on those thoughts a little, just as I’m trying to address my own negative self talk…. If my inner critic (Myra) says, “God you’re a weak bitch.” I’m trying to stop and consider that for a moment. It may well be the case, but it might not be. All is not always as it seems.

It would do us all good to remember that sometimes.

Do you often feel judged by others?
Do you sometimes rush to judgement about others?


  • Annaleis Topham
    November 12, 2012

    I hate being the outsider where I live. It’s hard moving towns! Though the more involved I get the more I’m taken in. I try not to judge too quickly but my gut is usually right!

    • Debbish
      November 13, 2012

      I decided I’d try to ‘join’ things. The older ladies at my Zumba class yesterday were all going for coffee after. I decided I would join them next time – just to get to know people. Plus networking can be good in a new place.

      I also met some IT / website gurus (I’d virtually met through Twitter) late last week which is good. AND, I’ve contacted someone from the local Writers’ Group.

      I always think my ‘gut’ is pretty much right as well when it comes to judging others. (Not sure if that’s the case or if my judgements are as wrong as others’ are about me!!!)


  • Char
    November 13, 2012

    I love that you’ve named your inner critic Myra. Hmm I wonder what I can call mine – she’s such a mean and nasty so and so. Cruella De Ville comes to mind.

    • Debbish
      November 13, 2012

      I think there’s a post in this blog somewhere about Myra (when I named her) PLUS I let ‘her’ do three guest posts for me at some stage.

      Myra was named after a crotchety great-aunt of mine!

  • Liz@LastChanceTraining
    November 13, 2012

    Hey Deb, yes and yes – and I found it worse when I was “bigger”. No one seemed to take me seriously – but that may have been my perception of things too.

    • Debbish
      November 14, 2012

      Yes… it’s hard to know how much one’s perceptions of others’ perceptions are (ummm) shaped by one’s perceptions!!?!?!?

      I know I often make assumptions about what others are thinking, but it’s mostly about how I THINK they will perceive me.

      Unfortunately I’m not often surprised!!!!

  • Min @ MinsMash
    November 14, 2012

    I’ve gained a little wisdom as I’ve got older. I never judge a book by its cover and I never judge a person by the first time I meet them. I know only too well that every onion has many layers and when you first meet a person there is usually a little facade there until they get to know you a little more and drop the wall. I have a terrible little inner critic – you have inspired me to name her. Hmmm…what would suit her?

    • Debbish
      November 14, 2012

      Give her a name you don’t like, but won’t insult anyone by that name if they were to find out!!!!

  • Char
    November 17, 2012

    I hadn’t forgotten that you wanted that cookie recipe. Can I email it to you? My email address is donaldson 52@hotmail.com. Just send me your address and I’ll get it to you.

    • Debbish
      November 17, 2012

      Will do Char!

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