“People take different roads seeking fulfilment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” ― Dalai Lama
When I fell pregnant at 19 I knew that it would come with a huge amount of challenges, but I wasn’t prepared for the brutal amount of judging that would come from complete strangers. For me not only was I a young mum but I also (and still do) look a lot younger than I am which I always felt was more of a curse rather than a blessing because it really exaggerated how young I was. This meant I was immediately judged and experienced nasty comments, head shakes, stares and eye rolls that got under my skin and really killed my spirit for years. The hardest thing about these judgements was that it didn’t just come from strangers but it also came from the doctors, nurses, midwifes and other professionals who were supposed to make you feel comfortable and safe. So many of my interactions with doctors and hospital staff lacked empathy and our conversations were never of excitement but more a lecture about how hard life was going to be.
A good friend of mine is currently pregnant with her third child and was telling me how differently she gets treated being older compared to when she had her first child at a young age. She has noticed that the biggest difference is the excitement people share with her when she goes for check ups and the genuine care in making sure that all of her questions and concerns are answered. I am so happy that my friend is having the positive experience that she deserves and it also proves that how we treat others is a choice and it isn’t something that should change based on a persons age or appearance. I am sad that I wasted so much time on trying to make myself look older and wishing that people would just get to know me before assuming the worst but it did shape the person I am today. I can’t change what people think of me, but I can change what I think of others and more importantly how I make others feel.
So here are some valuable lessons I have learned through my experience of being a young mum.
- We are all different – Just because you have been taught to do something one way or have been brought up to live with a set of values it doesn’t mean this is the right way or the only way. Educate yourself in the area you are about to assume about as knowledge is power.
- Appearances can be deceiving – The person wearing scruffy clothes doesn’t necessarily have less money than the person wearing a suit. Too often we are quick to judge a book by its cover and their cover isn’t necessarily their real or whole self. This is like how we judge someone who has a disability, unless we can physically see it we assume the person is lying. We tend to believe what we see; and if it can’t be seen, it simply doesn’t exist.”
- Give the person the benefit of the doubt – I learnt from working in retail that sometimes people’s actions don’t reflect who they are. I have been yelled at more times than I can remember but there was a time where I had a very irate customer come into store yelling at me about something that was out of my control. I instinctively judged him as being a bit of an ass hole but I did my best to help and once the customer had calmed down he apologised and explained that his wife had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and he needed to rush back to the hospital. Of course, it doesn’t make his actions right, but it did teach me to be mindful that we don’t know what battle others are fighting or what their situation is.
- Be mindful – It’s hard to not react instinctively when it comes to our judgment so it’s important to practice pausing before reacting. Think about the consequences your words and actions may have and if you know they have the potential to do harm, then think of a way to make your response or positive one or at the very lease a neutral one.
- Focus on personal growth – Be yourself, improve yourself where you can, and accept the parts of yourself that you can’t change. When you become happy internally it changes the way you see things externally and you’ll notice you’ll instinctively see more of the positives rather than the negatives in others.
♡ Thank you for reading and I encourage you all to share your smile with the world today ♡