I've spent the best part of my adulthood around people who are successful, powerful and sometimes controversial. From a young age I've watched friends and family be judged privately and publicly for their actions by people who don't know or care for them.
So what right do people have to judge others and their decisions? Does putting yourself in the public eye give people a right to have a say about your choices and your life?
Earlier this week I heard some news about my former boss, a woman who singlehandedly took on a male dominated world and became one of the most successful and prolific women in the world of art. She worked her way up from bottom to top and at the same time grew a small tearoom in Kensington Gardens to be one of the most renowned contemporary art galleries in the world. She didn't have a man to leg her up or help her to do any of this, she did it herself. She made sacrifices along the way and I, along with others, wondered why she didn't have a family. I'll admit, when I heard she'd had a child at 64 I was surprised and passed judgement, but then I took a step back to think about her choices and her life.
If I've learnt anything in the past year it's been not to judge others and really try to put yourself in other people’s shoes to think about why they made the decisions they did. I was judged for the decision I made to marry a stranger by friends and family and had responses from people that I never would have expected. I was told I was doing it for fame, because I was lazy about dating, because I was clearly far too difficult to hold a man down myself. I wrongly and inaccurately judged Ad before I got to know him. I even judged Caro and Melissa who had made the exact same decision as me, and now are two of my closest friends. Somehow, in my head, I thought I had the capacity to look at who they were, how they acted and the decisions they made, and have the right to form an opinion without even knowing them. Even in everyday life I'll readily admit that I have judged my closest friends without for a second thinking about their lives and their own motives.
We live in a society where we have ready access to people's lives and information, so somehow feel like we have what we need in order to judge someone else's decision about their own life. Realistically, you only ever know a very small percentage of the story and will never know the whole person as well as they know themselves.
We need to stop fuelling this culture of so readily forming opinion and passing judgement on others lives. Absolutely you have a right to your own opinion, but using that to pull someone else down and project negativity onto his or her life is totally wrong. Next time you see something that you disagree with, whether it's a homeless man on the street or a lingerie model on reality TV, stop for a minute and put yourself in their shoes. Really take a minute to empathise and question your judgement and opinion.
Let's project a bit more positivity and optimism rather than pulling down everyone around us.