I am a part of my college marching’s band. Today, a situation arose where a student was in my section, (who I am calling M) withdrew from the college yesterday. However, through conversations not revealed to me, M was granted permission to play the final game today.
M had told me, prior to her withdrawal, that she was having issues with the girls on her floor, that she was being bullied, that she was having financial troubles paying for school, and that she felt the college, in terms of drama, was too much like high school.
She mentioned that all of this was having a very profound negative effect on her mental and overall health.
When my section found out, there was no sense of concern for her well-being, or well wishes for her future. As a section, we were not privy to the details. But the moment M walked away from the section after telling us, my section broke into gossiping and complaining, belittling and questioning her choices.
Sure, I don’t agree with the way with M handled the situation, but more than anything, I don’t agree with how my section handled her withdrawal.
They talked as if she was irrational. That she was financially stupid. They broke into groups whining and complaining about M and her choices.
Some people were actually getting angry.
This was M‘s sophomore year of college, and she has plans to get a teaching degree. She is always happy and caring, and full of spirit. She is mature, but very playful. She loves to smile and laugh, and obsesses over dogs, of any and every kind. But I observed really quickly at the beginning of the season, that M was the person in the group who was brushed aside, or forgotten, or talked about negatively when she wasn’t around. No one gave M anytime, unless they felt they had to.
One story that I think clearly illustrates this was during a group scavenger hunt at the beginning of the school year. M had misplaced her wallet, containing her ID and student information. M feels stress and anxiety passionately, and when she realized she misplaced her wallet, she began to cry. One of the senior members of the group looked M square in the eye, and told her “Stop crying. It’s not that big of a deal”. I distinctly remember the disgust in this person’s voice. Later, when I had misplaced my room key, the same person looked at me and said “You’re not going to cry, are you?”.
Naturally, and subconsciously, I tend to gravitate towards the people who are forgotten, or who may seem difficult to love. Particularly in a group, if I can tell a person is being forgotten by the rest of the group, I try to be a friend to that person.
I spent time asking M about how her job search was going, when she mentioned she had a few interviews. I asked her how she liked this college, and I listened to the troubles she was having. I spent time talking to her, and getting to know her, and I wish her the absolute best.
When I knew the rest of my section tend to brush M off like she is annoying, I became furious when these same people starting passing judgments on M‘s situation and decisions.
People. Mind your words. If you don’t know the details of the situation, you have NO place to judge. You have no place to deem a person’s actions “proper” or “real”.
If you haven’t taken the time to get to know a person, how dare you get angry at how they choose to handle a situation.
How dare you gossip about something you know little about.
Maybe I’m naïve in wishing that people would start thinking about others before they opened their mouths. Maybe I’m naïve to believe that people can place themselves in another person’s situation, in order to understand why a person responded the way they did. Maybe I’m naïve to assume that people care.
Maybe I’m just plain naïve.
A really fantastic friend of mine recently wrote a blog post about the power of the tongue, and she concluded it with this: “Before trolling social media, rolling your eyes, gossiping about anyone, yelling at your kids, or fighting with your loved one, put that tongue back in your mouth and see the future regret before the poison kills.” (emphasis mine).
Mind your words. If you don’t know a situation, take the high road, and refuse passing judgment. First, not only because it makes you look really quite bad when you assume and gossip about things which you have no idea about; but second, because an untamed, dramatic tongue causes damage.
Mind your words.