SmartAssy

People Change, Judgments (Sometimes) Don’t

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Earlier this week, I met up with my high school friend Luke and his new boyfriend at our favorite hometown coffee shop. Despite our devotion to their house blend, we can’t really claim to have “liked it before it was cool,” mostly because I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t widely beloved. I rarely set foot inside without bumping into a familiar face.

When I was younger, this meant a quick hello to someone I saw on a regular basis. Now it more often means deciding whether to acknowledge an erstwhile acquaintance I haven’t seen in four years or just avert my eyes. It’s not that I’m an unfriendly person. I think we all have people from our childhood who it’s weird to run into now that we’re X years out of puberty. Whether you’re wondering if they even remember you or hoping they forgot about thatonethingyoudidthatonetime, it can be uncomfortable coming face to face with the past.

Luke demonstrated this truth brilliantly by refusing to reenter the coffee shop after we had claimed a table on their patio. He wanted a refill, but not so badly that he would subject himself to the awkwardness of walking by Nathan, a ghost of high school past. Luke’s boyfriend, who isn’t from our hometown, was a little perplexed by this refusal. Luke explained it like this: “I don’t want to have to say hi to Nathan. He doesn’t like me or, for that matter, people in general.” In response to this not unfounded remark, I suggested that maybe Nathan had changed since the age of 20, around the last time we had had the chance to judge his soullessness. Luke agreed, but I wasn’t even sure I believed it myself.

As we move through our lives, we develop these deeply entrenched judgments of people we used know, who we used to interact with on a daily basis. This static picture forms in our minds, and it doesn’t change as the actual person presumably matures outside of our own little world. Would we now like or respect people who were once unwelcome fixtures in our lives?

This phenomenon doesn’t only happen with those we disliked or haven’t seen for years on end. Sometimes, I feel my childhood friends with whom I’ve kept in touch view me as a younger version of myself. I was immortalized at 18 in their eyes; I still say “fuck” too much and hate to be hugged. While this can be frustrating, it shouldn’t really matter how others see us – even our friends – so long as we’re happy with who we’ve become.

And I guess it wouldn’t hurt to cut everyone else some slack on the judgment front. Because, who knows? Maybe someone who once appeared to lack basic human emotion is now a nice guy. Then again, there’s no need to get carried away.

Sans judgment…mostly,

Leah M.

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  1. Very cool story. I like the way you write…and think. We’ve all had a few Nathan’s in our lives.

    OH – Did Luke say Hi to Nathan…what happened?

  2. Thank you! I really appreciate that.

    Luke did not end up saying hi to Nathan after all, so the story is a bit anticlimactic in that way. On the other hand, it certainly got me thinking!

  3. It’s true. You always run into someone from high school and wonder if you should say hi or not. Wonder if they remember you. It’s amazing though, people who didn’t talk to you much in high school sometimes act like they’re your best friends years after graduation.

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