Thursday, July 15, 2010
I have been volunteering at a local organization for several years and one of the people we served was a favorite of mine as well as a favorite of the Leader of the program. The young woman had done everything she was supposed to do and was an example to all others because she had triumphed over adversity and was our shining example of what could happen with proper education and guidance. The Leader and I called her our "STAR" and we would always say to each other, in a self-congratulatory tone, "If SHE can do it, then anybody can!"
One day I went to volunteer at the the organization and the "STAR" answered the door. She greeted me warmly but I found it difficult to respond, because I had immediately assumed that the "STAR" was back there because she had failed in her independence after WE had worked so hard to achieve it!
I went immediately to see the Leader and I asked, "What is SHE doing back here AGAIN?" The Leader looked at me and said, "Oh, Sue, you do not know what an influence you had on her--she's back here--VOLUNTEERING!" I shrank back in embarrassment as the Leader continued, "She said she wanted to be just like Mrs. Raypole and PAY IT FORWARD!"
It's a good thing when we have our own stereotypes and judgmental behavior exposed to ourselves! First of all, WHO am I to judge, especially with no information? Second, WHY should I have judged her if she had indeed "failed"? I thought that I had "worked so hard" to help her and she was a disappointment to ME because I thought she had "failed". My inner voice lectured, "My, oh, my, Sue, get off your self-aggrandizing horse!" JUDGE NOT!