“Don’t Judge Me”

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of people (myself included) truly enjoying something, but then adding “don’t judge me” after the fact. Think about it. You might be guilty as well. Getting busted partaking in too much of the Valentine’s Day candy someone else brought to the communal bowl at work? “Don’t judge me.” Listening to Taylor Swift because she is constantly on 5 of 6 preset stations in the car (thank you NPR for being the holdout) and enjoying it? “Don’t judge me.” Getting stupid excited that pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this week and accidentally sharing that excitement with someone who could care less? “Don’t judge me.” I’m certain I have done at least two out of three in the last week.

When I add “don’t judge me,” I think I am really asking permission to be myself. “Don’t judge me” is asking society to stop making me feel crummy about doing something mildly embarrassing and to allow me be happy about it. But why not be a little embarrassed? Is it really that uncomfortable? And do I need to ask for permission? Can’t I just give myself that permission?

Maybe this is a truth of growing older. I am not sure if it is the good kind of growing up, being-secure-in-who-I-am, or the bad kind, being-80-years-old-and-farting-loudly-in-public-because-IDGAF. I have reached my tipping point and here’s the deal:

I don’t care if you judge me. I do not. Not anymore. I get to be me and I get to be happy and the external judgment matters not.

I eat my French fries with mustard. I find ketchup disgusting. So I dip my fries in mustard. “Don’t judge me.” Why? Because it is different. It is weird. It does not fall in line with what everyone else likes and does. And in the end, it does not really matter if I am judged. I may be embarrassed by my little quirk. And maybe I have to waste a little breath explaining how vile I find the taste of sweet ketchup corrupting my favorite fried indulgence. But I get to be me. I get to be happy. And it does not matter who judges me.

What made me stop caring? Am I now a sociopath who only focuses on my desires and wants and happiness without regard to anyone else? No. I think that the more I learn about myself and the more I feel comfortable in my skin, the less I care about approval. We all have a small core group of family and friends whose opinion means the world to us. And that core group is allowed to judge me. But here is the beauty of the core group: They don’t judge. They would tell me the truth, but they wouldn’t judge. That’s a key difference. Judgment has no positive outcome. Honesty allows you an opportunity to grow and change. My core group would get my back and not allow me to be ashamed of something so trivial as yellow mustard. But if that was heroin and not mustard, they would be wise enough to tell me to stop.

The more I learn about myself and the more I feel comfortable in my skin, the less I care about disapproval too. Outside of my core group, unsolicited opinions are unimportant.

If you want to be a good person, “don’t judge me.” If you want to be an a-hole, you are welcome to judge me. And if you decide to take the a-hole judgmental route, you are also welcome to keep your unsolicited opinion to yourself.

Whew, that felt good! I mean it feels good to say it, now to start believing it…

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