This essay was written by myself, Brandon Nolet, in the context that you’ve had a neighbour at least once in your life, or that you’ve been judged based on your appearance.
We’ve all heard that saying where you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I’ve always had a problem with this adage because it’s slightly misleading. There’s a few things to unpack here so bear with me.
Firstly, those who use the saying often presume that one’s judgement is always final and this is almost never the case. Unless you’ve got a radical opinion on something or you just refuse to thing critically, your opinions probably change regularly.
Secondly, it leads one to believe that one should never judge someone based on their appearance or their first impression. There are certain, many even, cases where the only thing you have to go off is their appearance and their first impression. One example would be a job interview. All you have is their appearance and first impression, though the age of social media is changing that.
Thirdly, I don’t believe that it’s about judging someone by their appearance. I think it’s about not letting your first impression be the only impression that you get or not solidifying your opinion about someone just due to their appearance. It’s mostly about not holding prejudices too closely.
Lastly, I think that someone’s appearance is a very good tell as to the type of person someone is, or wants to be. Now, I’m not advocating that one’s outfit or facial features define the very essence of someone, but I think that you can at least get a clue thanks to the way someone presents themselves visually.
I think there’s a lot of outward expressions that tell a lot about who someone is. There are certain things that wearing a watch says about you. There’s something that driving a Lexus says about you. There’s more than something that having a large house can say about you. Every outward form of expression says a something about you, regardless of whether the expression was conscious or not.
I’m sure you, or someone, you know has had someone creeping on you from their window either as you walk by or as you go into your home. They’re judging you. They’re admiring your backpack or loathing the way you did your grass. “Why are there so many weeds in his yard? He really doesn’t care about it, does it? He’s lazy.” Someone might have this very thought process.
What about being on the other side of that where you’re the one being complained to? “Did you see Sam’s new magnolia tree? I can’t believe they got such a gargantuan tree to put beside their tiny home. It’s just unweildy and now I have to stare at it every day.” It’s not the eyesore that it is that bothers this person, it’s what it reminds them of. Your “bad decision.”
All these busybodies are onto something and you should listen to them to get a better idea of what something you do says about you. Not that you should take their word as “bible” but that you should at least give their words some consideration. Self-awareness is the key to navigating life without awkwardness.
When you know how your actions will be perceived, and give this some consideration, you can almost guarantee not to misstep and you might even be able to convince others to go your way sometimes.
I’m an idiot. You may not need to take my advice here.