To assume makes a you-know-what out of you and me

Understanding other’s realities gets us further than making judgments

How often do we assume the worst of people? How quickly do we unconsciously judge, even though we’d hate to have the same done to us?

There is nothing more painful than going through something very difficult in your own reality, knowing that the world doesn’t wish to understand. So often our explanations of someone’s situation or actions are cold, assuming and negative.

As a nursing student, I have clinicals every week. Working on a med-surg floor in a small hospital, I’ve seen a lot of health issues that sometimes appear to me to be, well, quite preventable. I see overweight people with type 2 diabetes who barely move out of their chairs at home, then come in with ulcers. I’ve seen people who come in with recurrent, mystery symptoms, seemingly just looking to be taken care of or seeking medication.

But when I was at my off-site in the operating room one day, an extremely wise health care technician reminded me of something very important.

He had been working OR for years, and was side by side with the surgeons in everything. In one of the cases, an extremely obese patient was receiving an epidural. One of the workers was remarking on how ridiculous her weight was. The technician then pulled me aside.

He told me that even though it may be obvious she isn’t a healthy weight, what right does he have to judge her? He didn’t know her story and had no clue what she had been through. He proposed maybe she was in some sort of terrible accident that prevented her from being active. Perhaps she was battling a terrible psychological trauma. Whatever the case, his job was not to judge her—it was to be the best human being he could be; in that moment, that meant being empathetic and caring toward her, deciding that she deserved just as good of care as anyone.

Granted, as a nurse I want to be an enabler. I know there are some people out there who maybe are just flat out lazy with their health. But my job as a nurse isn’t to decide that. My job is to empathize, support, provide care, and do my best to offer resources to give them a healthier, happier life—not to assume every terrible thing I can about them.

So here on campus, next time someone pulls out in front of you, try not to assume they’re a self absorbed jerk. Maybe there is an emergency—maybe they just flat out didn’t see you. Think about the times you’ve pulled out in front of someone. It was probably not on purpose.

Or when you see your fellow classmate who is just not getting the material. Try not to assume they’re just dumb or lazy. Maybe they are going through something ridiculously challenging. Offer to help, or at the very least, do your best to understand their reality and give them the benefit of the doubt.

It’s not easy, but the only person you can change is yourself and how you react to situations. If you see the best in others because you react in a way that conveys that instead of pointing out everything that’s wrong with that person, you are a lot more likely to turn some heads for the good and gain that understanding back.