“Well, I just assumed…….” I trailed off.
My much older co-worker gave me that mother look with her chin tucked down and asked, “You know what they say about assuming?” It came out more like a statement.
“No. No, I don’t.”
She lifted her head, and her face softened. “You don’t?!” she asked with quite a bit of surprise.
I shook my head no with bewilderment. Where was this going?
Her disapproving look returned, and she answered me with another question. “L, how do you spell assume?”
“Think about what you just spelled.”
I rolled it over in my mind a few times. A-S-S-U-M-E. I didn’t get it.
She finally gave me the answer she had wanted me to figure out on my own. “When you assume things you make an ass out of u and me!”
That was over twenty years ago, and I’m still trying to figure that one out. I’ve always been one who is quick to assume. I’m gullible. I assume people are what they say. I assume people act in accordance with their feelings. And, more often than not, I make an ass out of myself. And, perhaps someone else as well.
I’m not the only one. I’ve felt the brunt of others’ assumptions.
People have assumed I brought the abuse on myself. People have assumed I must be overly sensitive and making more of it than it was. People have assumed that I’m not very bright, or I would not have ended up where I did nor would I be working as a menial laborer now. People have assumed I have no sense of style or taste.
None of that is true. They’ve essentially made an ass of themselves and me by assuming such things about me. They’ve made an ass of themselves by denying the humanity that lies within them that yearns to show compassion and see beyond the immediate. They’ve made an ass of me by denying me the dignity and validation I deserve.
Perhaps it is karma. Perhaps it is God trying to teach me a lesson. As much as it hurts to have people assume false things about me, I just can’t seem to break the habit myself.
Because I’ve received negative comments regarding my “career choice” (said very tongue in cheek), I’ve assumed that everyone thinks I’m not smart enough or ambitious enough to pursue a “real” job. I’ve assumed that my clients see me as the Minny or Aiby in their lives. But, I’ve made an ass of myself and them in doing so.
One of my clients recently let me go. She no longer needs my services; she changed jobs in order to be home more. She said that the cleaning was a blessing, but I’ve blessed her life in many more ways, too. I taught her how important it is to be a mother. And, I taught her to look outside the box for ways to earn a living.
She never saw me as the hired toilet cleaner. She saw me as a woman who values my time with my children and has the intelligence and ambition to create work for myself that allows me the freedom to be a hands on mother.
This time it was me who robbed myself of compassion for another human being. I failed to see her for who she really is, and I denied her the dignity she deserved. She is a deeply emotional yet incredibly strong woman. And, I’d judged her. I denied her the dignity and validation she deserved as a mother struggling to do her best. I assumed she thought her education and her home made her better than the woman who mopped her floors. That thought never crossed her mind. I made an ass of me.
Another of my clients recently asked me, “So, what’s your background? Other than just raising kids?” He wasn’t quite making an assumption, but he was pondering. He knew there was more here than meets the eye, and he was digging with a purpose. After I shared it with him he asked if I’d be interested in a business administration position should he start a new business.
Again, it was me! I assumed he and his highly educated wife were kind to me because I’m the cause of the day. They’re well off, well educated, and well bred. Those kind of people are raised to value community service and helping the less fortunate.
Do you hear that? I’m the judgmental one! I made an ass of me again.
A dear friend has stood beside me throughout this ordeal from day #1. She and her husband have given and given and run and been there and worked to help me. They’ve also included me in social events. Oh, how I’ve kicked against that! I feel like T’s loser friend following her around. I’ve assumed all of their other friends see me as her pet.
When she invited me to a Bible study at her house with some of her friends, I really didn’t want to go. Their Facebook profile pictures made me want to run screaming in any direction but there. They were gorgeous, perfectly coiffed, smiling big smiles with perfect teeth. I assumed they would wonder what I was doing there with them.
However, as the weeks rolled by in our study, I found them to be gracious, open, and very raw and real. I came to love them and see them as my friends, too. I made an ass of me once again when I assumed that women that beautiful and well off certainly couldn’t be deep or kind. And, if I had followed my heart and run from them, I’d have missed out on some of the most wonderful conversations, growth, and friends.
This group of women gave me a grotesquely generous gift card to a clothing store for my birthday last week. And, as usual, I made my assumptions before going shopping. I haven’t been in a women’s clothing store in decades. Since R left I’ve peppered my hand-me-down wardrobe with a few pair of pants ordered from online sales. But, all in all, my style is, well, I have no style. I don’t understand the current fashions. I don’t know how to tie a scarf. I don’t know how to wear belts or boots. I’ve been tucked away in R’s hell on the mountain, living in extremely used clothes, for too many years.
So, I prepared myself for judgment when I walked through the doors of that place I’d only driven past until now.
The cute little blonde sung out to me, welcoming me. She asked if I was looking for anything in particular. Um, no, yes. I didn’t know. So, I confessed. “My friends bought me a gift card for my birthday. I haven’t been shopping in years and really need everything. So, I have no idea. I’m just looking.”
She didn’t look me up and down. She didn’t judge my appearance. She didn’t wince at my confession that I haven’t been shopping in years. Instead, Miss Cutesy Pie smiled even bigger and asked if she could be their friend, too.
So, I looked and I looked and I looked. I had no idea where to even begin. My Bible study friends had said that they didn’t know what my style was. Well, that made five of us because I didn’t either!
When I decided that I’d better start trying some of it on, the cute little blonde took me to a room with my name written on the door. She had items laid out to go together. She smiled and said, “I took the liberty of grabbing a few things to go with! I’m just in love, love, love with that sweater and those camis! I’ll be back to check on you and get you other sizes! I grabbed you smalls because I looked at you and thought, yeah, she can wear a small!” And, off she bounced.
I ended up buying the things she chose for me.
I went back yesterday to grab one more thing to go with one of the outfits, and she was there. She remembered my name. She said she was so glad I’d come back because none of her other Barbies had been in all day. Barbies?
I had assumed she would view me as a veritable homeless person and wonder what the likes of me was doing in her store. Instead, she saw me as a Barbie doll to dress up, a blank palette to paint. So, I asked her to teach me how to wrap and tie scarves, or whatever it is you do with them. And, she patiently showed me just a few basics over and over and over again, even trying to draw a picture for me to take home.
I told her that I’m just going to let her pick my clothes and dress me from here on out and if I have problems I’m going to call the store and ask her for instructions. She clapped and jumped up and down the way those cute little blondes do. (Do you hear that judgment in my words?!)
So, there you have it. I’ve assumed others see me in a way that degrades me. Not all of them do. However, I’ve definitely assumed things about others that degrades them. My assumptions have robbed them, if only in my mind, of their beautiful spirits, their compassion, their openness, their lack of judgment.
I walk around with a chip on my shoulder, assuming people are judging me and viewing me as the dumb, lazy, lowlife who has spent her life beating beaten because she doesn’t have the gumption to change her own life. Poor me!
Sinful me! I’m the one judging them!
I’ve made an ass of u (them) in my mind with my assumptions, and, in doing so, I’ve openly made an ass of me.