Dork-o-Rama: The Random Thoughts of a Total Goofball

Embracing the Dork Side....Because Life is Too Short to Take Yourself Too Seriously

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Judgment day...

In hula class lately, as we've finished learning the dance we've been working on for a few months, Kumu (not his name; it means master, teacher. see, you get a language lesson here too!) has been splitting us up, directing half of us to dance while the other half watches. This can be unnerving, especially if you end up in the front row of your group, as I often do, simply by virtue of where you stand in class.

It's helpful to have danced on stage many times in the past. I've long known how to employ the technique of looking just over the heads of your "audience" so you don't get hung up in the "omigod, people are watching me, don't screw this up" thought pattern. You lose focus if you start watching people watch you. I do, anyway.

But I found myself doing something while I was watching the other group dance: judging. I was starting to feel pretty good about myself, realizing that I knew the steps better than many of my classmates, and noted that some of them were simply doing them wrong. I also realized why I feel like I'm getting such a great workout in this class, aside from my less-than-desirable fitness level: many of my classmates are not going all-out when they dance.

And then I felt terrible, when I realized what I was doing. This class is supposed to be for fun. We're all there for different reasons. It's not a competition. Why was I sitting there comparing myself to my classmates? Not only is it against the whole concept of Aloha Spirit and sister/brotherhood Kumu talks about, it's just petty.

Then it occurred to me that we do this in life all the time. We compare the way we live our lives with those around us, our appearance, our relationships, our possessions, our careers... everything.

It doesn't seem healthy to me. It leads to envy. Or smug superiority. Life's not a competition either (at least, it's not supposed to be), so why do we do this to ourselves? Why can't we just focus on our own stuff?

Or is this just natural? Is it something that's innate to the human condition and can't be helped?

I dunno. I'm gonna try, though.

At 04 March, 2007 14:41, Blogger JMai said...

Yeah, I find myself doing that all the time and I always kick myself on the inside for doing it. I'm not sure if it's innately human or if I'm just a bitch.

I think it might be a little bit of both.

I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I've been overweight forever, so comparing myself to others in terms of intelligence, style, skill, etc... has been an internal defense of mine. Still, it's not the right thing to do and I'm always trying to stop myself.

Great post, Terry!

At 04 March, 2007 15:48, Blogger terry said...

welcome back, jmai! excellent point about this being a defense mechanism. i'm sure it serves that purpose for a lot of us.

and thank you!

At 04 March, 2007 16:59, Blogger SignGurl said...

For me, this is something I have to work on every single day. I try hard not to judge others but I keep on doing it anyway.

Great post!

At 04 March, 2007 18:18, Blogger terry said...

signgurl, i guess it's inevitable. it's hard to get through life without some sort of gauge of how you're doing.

it would just be nice if we could all somehow have an internal gauge.

At 04 March, 2007 19:12, Blogger The Savage said...

Great is your wisdom oh Queen of Dorks...
I'd comment further but others might judge it.. (wink)

At 04 March, 2007 20:21, Blogger sassinak said...

i think it's perfectly normal to compare yourself to others. how else can you figure it out?

i go to the same pilates 3 class every week and every week someone is better at something (most things) than i am and someone is worse. from both i learn something.

the 'worse' person gets something explained in a new way and my knowledge grows. the 'better' person comments on some epiphany they had and my knowledge grows.

seeing their bodies change and learn teaches mine...

so yeah, i think it's totally healthy as long as you aren't a bitch about it.

At 04 March, 2007 20:29, Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

That's a very healthy realization you've just had. Looks like you've learned all the steps of the aloha spirit quite well, indeed.

Keep on dancing!


At 04 March, 2007 21:24, Blogger terry said...

savage, you're funny.

sass, you make a good point. the thing is, i think i WAS being a bitch about it. it was definitely more judgment than just comparison.

pirate, i'm working on it! one day, i might actually be a fully-formed human.

At 05 March, 2007 06:22, Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

You know, I've decided that I am surreptitiously competitive. I'm not very obvious about it.

When I was showing my horse I used to tell myself that I was competing with myself and bettering my last performance. Then I admitted that I was sizing up the other horses and riders. Maybe my horse wasn't as well trained as so&so's, but he was just better, and my little kids could safely ride him, even if he wasn't perfect. I consoled myself on our shortcomings that way.

But I also had evil thought like, "I'm better lookin than that rider! She may have a 1st place and a silver covered saddle but we're prettier!" which is kind of petty. And mean.

Oh well. So I'm slightly judgmental. I'm also slightly mental. Whatevs.

At 05 March, 2007 06:42, Blogger buddha_girl said...

I think it's both nature and nurture. Depending on our life experience and exposure to competition, winning, losing, etc., we may be more or less competitive than others.

Me? Although I'm easy-going and extremely flexible, I'm also a perfectionist and over-achiever. I've found that I'll take on more tasks than seem humanly possible because I deem my own skills more reliable than trusting in those of others.

Arrogant? Probably. But I've also learned through trial and error to count only on myself. It's tough to break old habits.

Super post, Terry! Keep shaking it, sister.

At 05 March, 2007 07:21, Blogger What the Chuck said...

Hi T,

Uh, judge? We just wanna see pictures!



At 05 March, 2007 09:00, Blogger Natalie said...

I think judgment is part of being human. You have to judge something to understand how it relates to you and you must understand how things relate to you in a communal society. Judgment is part defense mechanism and partly to evaluate our social place in the world and see where we fit in. Being catty about it is something that I think has simply developed as society has become more brutal and shallow. Not that I am above it or anything, I judge with the best of them. You simply have to be self-aware and know when you are going too far and catch yourself. Like you did. Sorry this got so long.

At 05 March, 2007 10:11, Blogger Natalia said...

I think it's normal to have those types of feelings. But I think it is the right thing to do to recognize them and check them. The worse part about them is not how they make you feel but the fact that everyone knows the reason you are being bitchy is because you are being envious. To wit, if you are dating someone who isn't as cute as your friend's man, you might say something about his intelligence. You might think you are getting away with just being bitchy but most people who hear it know the reason behind it. So, it's corrosive inside and out. I don't envy anyone. And if someone has something I'd like to have, I work towards it if it's achievable. I hope that made sense.

And, BTW, I love posts that start with "In hula class..."


At 05 March, 2007 10:19, Blogger Michael B said...

it took me a few runs to discover that no one else who matters cares about my "race" freed me up to be more of a geek on the marathon course. it allows me to be slow...slower than the old guy who really "shouldn't" beat me. it also lets me just let them run, too...instead of seeing if they run with or without an ipod, have the newest, coolest shoes, or even still run in cotton!!! excellent for thought...and i'm almost always hungry.

cheers tc

At 05 March, 2007 11:47, Blogger Blondie said...

It's survival of the fittest. If you hula better than I do, I'm going to have to clobber you on the head with my big stick to keep you away from the leader. Then he will drag me into his cave by my hair instead of you. :)

At 05 March, 2007 13:21, Blogger Queen of Cheese said...

Hooray for Aloha spirit!!

I think you're neat.

Everybody's good at SOMETHING.

You just happen to be good at MOST things.

so ... whaddaya gonna do?

carry on.

At 05 March, 2007 14:18, Blogger cadbury_vw said...

we all judge. we all compare.

it is what you should be doing.

we live in a social context. we live and learn by how we see and interact with others.

to try to do otherwise is artificial.

the question is, are you judgemental? i suspect not

At 05 March, 2007 15:12, Blogger Natalia said...

I disagree with the artificiality bit. In fact, while it's human nature to compare, we learn to be far more judgmental. The things we compare are things we have learned to covet. But that's just my take.


At 05 March, 2007 18:03, Blogger masgblog said...

I can hear the lovely aloha oh music, gently lilting the participants into soft dance moves.

Interrupt that with a little competitive pepper thrown in.

Now, I am competitive. I know that. Can't help it. Born that way I guess.

Sounds like you are too?

*where's my ukelele?*

At 05 March, 2007 23:30, Blogger terry said...

i love the conversation this has generated. y'all have such interesting, insightful things to say.

and the irony is that tonight, after a missed class due to illness, i was quite lost for awhile in hula. and it was making me crazy.

yeah, i am competitive. it goes right to my childhood, when it was simply not acceptable to say "i don't know" or "i don't know how." it's what's made me a know-it-all AND a perfectionist. not the most pleasant combination.

and the person who bears the brunt of most of that perfectionism is me.

wait, what was my point? i don't know. but i'm happy to say i was a lot less lost at the end of class than at the beginning. and since i didn't have to watch anyone else dance, the only person i could judge was myself.

and no, chuck, there will not be hula pictures! one day, though, maybe i'll do a "before" and "after" of myself so you can get a sense of WHY there will be no pictures...

At 06 March, 2007 07:30, Blogger What the Chuck said...

Hi T,

Now, I'm pouting.....




At 06 March, 2007 09:55, Blogger FATSO said...

I dunno...a little judgement is natural if you are slightly competitive by nature (I am) I like to think that if you are good at something becvause you have worked your ass off (literally!) then you deserve to look and say "Hmmm. I am better than he/she is at THIS particular activity."

Myabe the word is not judgement, but assesment. We like to see where we fit in with our own capabilities. I do Martial Arts- and even though i am a black belt I have the humility to know that some 22 yr old at the same level as I am can kick my old ass. But I would then put my own skills up against anyone my age. Is that judging them? Maybe- but it's also being realistic in my assesment...just like you and your Hula (btw- that is terribly cool)

At 06 March, 2007 12:09, Blogger terry said...

chuck, i can't dance and take pictures at the same time!!

At 06 March, 2007 16:04, Blogger Laura said...

i just think its human nature.
i have thought about this too, because it is often done(by me as well) in high school. I think its good you recognize that, though!


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