Significant Stuff

January 17, 2010

Status.  First, we judge.

Our community is a microcosm of occupational and social status.  There’s a constant and dynamic shift, shimmy and evaluation of status and your relative place within the heirarchy.  It doesn’t matter if you resist, you are a salmon in the stream.  You gotta get up the river and spawn or die.

It’s not necessarily mean spirited.  Sometimes, there’s a real joy in splashing around with your fellow thespians, crew, directors, audience, writers, producers, everyone.

I’ve worked in positions of widely varying degrees of status-oriented exposure and have felt, resisted, perpetrated and been bowled over by the stream, the salmon, the rocks, the water and the fisherman.  And the naturalist photographers putting together those fishing magazines.  This is not my constant state of being, but here’s how it has played out at various times.  See if either of these perspectives ring a bell with you…

There have been moments in my life when…

If I didn’t have, or didn’t perceive I had status — I judged people who looked down on me as lacking in awareness and as insecure, thus elevating myself in status to myself and to anyone I could get to listen to my pithy and insightful observations.

If I did perceive that I was in a position of status — I judged the people who treated me differently because of it as just as bad as those who “obviously don’t know who I am.”  Thus enabling me to raise my status by being exclusionary.

Oh, Susan, Susan, Susan…

I’ve got some funny stories — not all of them tragic and many with me as my own victim.  (I’ll save them for a salon topic later.)

I’m not proud or ashamed of these experiences, but to live a year of significance, I require honesty.  I won’t say, “Don’t judge me” because you may not be able to help it any more than I could at times.  I don’t say that to be mean.  It’s really okay.  I wasn’t evil for having these thoughts.   The miracle is that I get to choose what to do next.  I can honestly say that as I’ve trod my path, being automatically judgmental and status-oriented has radically diminished — especially in the last year and a half.  It’s been hellaciously hard, but also such a relief.

It’s freekin’ amazing what happens when I see myself and others without judgment or status.  Such freedom.  Freedom to consider and choose.  Freedom that feeds my ability and energy to pursue my dreams.


Susan Scot Fry


I confess to feeling really terrible about this post.  It’s tough to air what feels like dirty secrets — mostly because, no matter how I explain it, it’s easy to think that I’m making a statement of who I am.  Of how I operate right now.  It’s not like confessing I don’t like to talk on the phone.  That confession was almost cathartic and engendered numerous (sometimes whispered) simpatico confessions.

I woke up Sunday morning with an Aha! moment.  I had caught myself reflexively judging a couple of people for their dismissal of me.  The day before, I’d been in a volunteer situation with many people I didn’t know.  Some I was introduced to, some not.  Later in the evening, I’d look up and smile as I passed them by and they’d pointedly look away.  Just to make sure, I tried it several times.  Yep, I was not someone who mattered.  I was a “wannabe” because.. I don’t know… maybe because I’d helped and didn’t make a point of having any creds…?  Eek.

I can honestly say, I was more bewildered than hurt.  That’s just not how you treat people.  In MY judgment…

My experiences with these few people prompted my reflections.  This isn’t unusual for me.  I’m one of the most introspective people you will ever meet.  I often ask , “Why do they do that?” which is frequently followed by, “Do I ever do that?  Why?” My Aha! answers prompted my confession.

Forgive me.  I’m really not that bad.  Oh wait, I’m judging myself again.




6 thoughts on “January 17, 2010

  1. It’s hard to not judge. Our entire society is set up to make someone feel better or worse about themselves by looking at the people around them. I try not to judge. We never know what’s really happening in that person’s life to make that person make the decisions that they make. It still happens, though. I also try not to let other people’s judgments of me hurt. I’d like to get to the point where I’m bewildered rather than hurt. I get hurt and angry. I also want to know how they think that we don’t know or can’t tell they are judging us. Or maybe they just don’t care. Which means I shouldn’t care. But I do.
    Thank you for airing your dirty little secrets. By watching you grow, we all grow, too.


  2. Judgment, status and whatnot = cool observations. These are a set of things upon which I’ve ruminated as well…. When is judgment a good, bad or neutral thing? Because it can be any of those. The judgment that this car mechanic doesn’t seem trustworthy or that I’ve seen so-and-so throw someone under the bus and should be cautious about them in my own dealings…these are self-preservational judgments that are prudent in a world where people’s competing agendas and varied interpretations of the social contract with their fellow man are realities. Is the judgment that “I’m not looking my best” being hard on oneself, or is it being honest about the need to re-consider things that can lead to a re-invigoration of one’s spirit as well as one’s look?!

    Yes, these *are* things I think about! And, as is so often the case, there is no one answer. To judge all judgment as “bad” is to tar with a too-wide brush, just as to judge all future similar experiences to one that may not have gone well is to do a disservice to tomorrow’s opportunities.

    Mildly amusing anecdote about status — while I was in college, I worked in an architect’s office as an administrative assistant. We had a client with whom I’d spoken on a handful of occasions. We were far from chummy, but I was a somewhat known quantity. I found myself with an opportunity to pick up a few extra $$ one evening as a cater waiter so, like you do in college, I jumped on it! Well, this woman was one of the guests at the reception. Despite knowing me, no acknowledgment, no eye contact, nothing! Meanwhile, there was an older gentleman who was clearly “somebody” in town, though I didn’t know who he was. He chatted with me most companionably over the canape tray, not smarmy-old-guy-flirting-with-the-co-ed, just friendly. To everyone. My observation at the time was that one could tell who was new money and who was old — who felt she had something to prove, and who was confident enough in his place and himself that he didn’t mind acknowledging “the help.”

    I suppose that those judgments might be considered “wrong” or harsh or general. They are a bit of the latter, though at the heart of every stereotype is a kernal of observable truth around which the rest has accreted. But, I stand by that small lesson in people and life that I drew out of that experience, as the judgment that came out of the events has continued to have a reasonable degree of validity.

    This is rather stream of consciousness…my points are far from definitive, merely contributory! I can say that what I respect is an open-mindedness that is capable of evaluating and deciding (judging), but is also capable of re-thinking and re-considering. Self-reflection is a rare commodity, I’ve discovered. I don’t claim to be its poster girl. But I try to practice it, and encourage others to do so. It’s the area in which, I think, my own philosophy most intersects some of the Eastern beliefs about reincarnation and enlightenment…some souls are just younger than others, and to the end of a given lifespan, that individual will still be more reactive than proactive, as one would expect of a child.

    How does one best encourage a trait like reflection in others, without giving offense, or presenting one’s self as “better than” or “smarter than” or (heaven forbid!) “holier than”!?

    Okay, enough with the meaning of life questions.

    Thanks for encouraging a nice mental stretch on a Monday morning, Susan. Perhaps we will have to continue this over a cup of tea one of these days!! Or, just smell the proverbial flowers, because, in the end, it all still is whatever it is!!



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