It is a truth, universally acknowledged… no actually; it is nothing of the sort. I just felt like starting this blog post with Austen’s most famous quote ever. But indeed, it is true that we perceive and experience that as people get older, they tend to become more opinionated and judgmental. More rigid and inflexible in their thoughts, ideas and ways of doing, being, thinking.
However, the exact opposite has happened to me. As I get older, I realize that I am getting mellower. I am more forgiving of people’s faults and transgressions. I make and accept excuses for them- be it for any reason. In my brash and unforgiving youth, mostly everything was black and white. Either bad or good. I did not give anybody the benefit of doubt. I branded people and slotted them and that was it.
Now, as I have grown older and wiser (hopefully) I see that there are extenuating circumstances in a lot of situations. I have no idea what kind of pain, stress or troubles the other person is belaboring with. Life throws us curveballs and lemons and brickbats and everything in between, especially when we least expect it. Each of us reacts differently to the pain and stress. The pain may explode in any way, shape or form- and who cares who is in the way when the explosion occurs!
The single reason why I have become more forgiving and understanding of people is that I have seen and faced some really tough situations in the last few years. And have not always reacted well. I have understood that people do bad things when in bad situations. It is impossible to do and be good when difficult things and situations occur. I am more empathetic because of my experiences. I can condone almost anything now- maybe, just short of rape or murder.
This new mellow me set me thinking. Does this happen to all of us as we get older? Maybe not. Why not? Here, I formulated my own opinion. I think that if we have had a relatively easy life, we tend to be more judgmental. And if we have faced tough times and tough situations, we tend to be more forgiving. I have also seen this borne out in a lot of people. I was like this myself a long time ago. Having had a very easy and sheltered life in India, I was extremely judgmental and opinionated. Also, I had the overbrimming brashness and confidence of youth. But it all exploded in my face after I got to this country. I’ve faced some really difficult challenges and demons, both inside and out. I’ve reacted and behaved in the most unexpected and awful of ways.
And you know what- I’m not sure the earlier me would have forgiven myself. Understood or empathized or sympathized. But this me has realized that yes, there are extenuating circumstances in lots of cases. Anything can happen to any of us anytime. If the bad things do not happen, consider yourself blessed. But people with easy lives become opinionated or judgmental.
So that’s my opinion. Not only with myself, but I have seen this time and again with people around me. The easier our life, the more prone we are to judging others. The more we go through the agni-parikshas of life, the more mellow and soft we become. But of course, the new mellow me will not judge you and call you judgmental. I can understand where you’re coming from ;)