“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s an old cliché that’s been said time and time again but it isn’t often followed. I myself can be considered guilty of fitting a person into a stereotype based on what they look like or who their friends are. Its human nature to do so; I never used to care if I did because everyone else discriminated in this way. I’ve now come to realize that people are often much more than the shallow assumptions I may have made about them. I believe that every person should be given a fair chance before any judgments about their personality can be made.
About a year ago I was in a class as part of a program to be Confirmed through the church. There were four people in the class including myself and we all went to an elderly couple’s house once a week where they would talk about whatever was in the booklet they had. Two of the others in the class were guys I knew from before. The one girl in the class was someone I remembered from middle school but had never talked to. As it turns out, she and I were often the first ones to class and we would sit at the couple’s dining room table and wait. From what I thought I remembered about her I thought I would have nothing to talk to her about. She didn’t play sports or even go to the same school. Her friends were so different from mine. All we seemed to have in common was that we were about the same age and were in the class together. One day when we had a particularly long wait for the other two to show up, she started a conversation with me. It didn’t go far because I didn’t really know what to talk about but it was a start.
Later on as part of the same program I had to go on an overnight retreat. This basically meant that I had to go to some house far in the woods and almost two full days of someone trying to make religion seem interesting. About fifteen kids were on this retreat and the girl was one of them. She and her friend were the only people my age that I felt I had anything in common with (I knew for a fact that I had very little in common with the few other people in my grade on the retreat). Being stuck in an old house with only two people to really talk to makes for a great chance to get to know someone. Her friends weren’t nearly as strange as I had thought they were judging by the one I got to know better. At the end of this, I found that I had far more in common with the girl than I had thought. Among other things, she liked watching high school soccer which I played. We found plenty of things to talk about. I’ve still kept in touch with her to this day.
If I learned anything from being in that Confirmation program it wasn’t what was taught but what I found out about making assumptions based on superficial things. Since then I have become better friends with many people I thought I would never talk to before I got to know them. I try to figure out who someone really is before I judge them and I hope that someone would do the some towards me. I know that I may come off differently than I really am and I don’t want to be judged based on that stereotypical image. The stupid little cliché about books and their covers actually has a lot more truth than it seems.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.