I don’t know how overused quotes have to be before they’re considered cliché, but there are a few that stick with me long after I stumble across them in the vast sea of Internet garbage.
"Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate."
I read this something like a year ago and was instantly moved because I was (and still am) miserably guilty of the latter.
Bad taste in music, "basic" outfits — you name it, I’ve ripped someone apart for it.
Until I read that simple quote, I hadn’t taken the time to step outside the confines of my ego and say,
“Hey, that makes him or her happy. Who cares if I don’t like it, too?”
When people think of the word acceptance, it often raises thoughts of large scale cultural constructs (race, class, sexual orientation, etc.), leaving the small facets of a person’s "self" perceived as fair game in terms of bashing.
I’ve come to realize, though, that voicing a negative opinion on someone’s interests, hobbies and choices can be equally offensive, and we should work toward lessening it.
A simple way to break down your judgmental walls begins with asking yourself, “Who am I to…?”
Who am I to assume the girl who reads Kurt Vonnegut and drinks craft beer is any cooler than the girl who watches "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and sips wine coolers?
Who am I to roll my eyes at someone walking on a treadmill while I wait for one to open up, as if his or her workout is less valuable or productive than mine?
Who am I to assume someone ordering a salad and water thinks I’m a slob for inhaling wings? (Although, I should face the fact that I really f*cking am.)
Who am I to assume Greek letters on someone’s shirt means he or she fits all kinds of negative stereotypes? (For the record, I had many friends in college involved in Greek life and they were/are amazing people.)
Who am I to assume I’d have nothing in common with someone who posts bible verses on social media?
These questions may sound harsh and narrow, but they are reflective of thoughts I have actually had.
I can’t chalk up this semi-epiphany to one measly quote, but I will say it was the catalyst for a necessary change in my thought process.
Since I’ve been practicing (and occasionally failing at) this newfound method to accept, it pains me to see how our generation thrives on the power of the put down. The rarity of meeting someone whose intelligence isn’t paired with arrogance these days is striking.
People literally bond and form disturbing connections over hating others and their interests because it gives them a sense of superiority.
I’ve had people absolutely sh*t on my interests, and I’m happy to say I’m at a point in my life that it doesn’t really affect me. But, I wasn’t always this way.
I can’t tell you how many times I used to bite my tongue before disclosing that I majored in interpersonal communication in college because I thought I’d get the automatic "dumbass" stamp.
We’ve created a culture where people are reluctant to speak out about the things they love and are interested to learn about for the fear of being deemed stupid, and that is simply wrong.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I think it’s incredibly important to have opinions and self-awareness about what you dig and what you don't, but it’s even more important to respect the differences among your peers and not judge them because of it.
The fact of the matter is people shouldn't be defined by such limited terms and coexistence should be our ultimate goal.
If you’re falling off a cliff and the only person about to save you has “Rush Sigma Pi” on his or her shirt, will you deny the help?
We’re all in the human experience together, so let’s start acting like it. Imagine how many great friendships we’re potentially missing out on because of our closed minds and constant assumptions.
Imagine how much progress we could make if we put the same amount of effort into loving as we do hating.
Start practicing acceptance now. Make a conscious effort to mentally slap yourself across the face whenever you find your mind wandering to a preconceived notion.
Go announce your passions like crazy and spread some positivity without fearing the potential that people might laugh at you.