Stigmas and society: let’s talk about trying new things

I’ll be honest, I was going to write a blog post about podcasts. I love podcasts – I use them for everything, from weekly updates on politics to generally just passing the time. However, as you can probably tell from the title of this post, we’re not talking about that today; I assure you there’s a very good reason for this.

I was talking to a friend the other day. She’s one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met – she’s also very sporty and so, after a long wait, finally gave in and took out a gym membership. A perfectly normal thing to do, I’m sure you’ll agree. Only when she got there, amongst all the probably quite nice people just trying to get on with their workout, but amongst them was one individual who gave my friend the look. We all know the look. The kind of judgemental, scathing look that I’m convinced no one looks nice doing. It’s downright unapologetically rude. As I said, my friend is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet – she’d give you the clothes off her back if you had a slight chill, and the idea that she was treated like that just seems so wrong. Of course, I’ll admit there are definitely worse things in the world. Racism. Homophobia. Sexism. The list goes on. On the grand scale, this behaviour might not seem that important. But still, the little things hurt.

The stigma around trying new things, like going to the gym or trying a pottery class for the first time, is damaging. Where would we be if nobody tried new things due to the scorn of others? Nobody would be top of their fields. Would there even be any subjects to study? Would people be too afraid to identify them? Judgemental attitudes can limit future development, and that’s not something that we should encourage or allow to happen. Everybody starts off in a different place. In the case of my friend, when that other person first went to the gym, they probably weren’t as good as they are now. People need to develop in order to achieve their best, so what’s the point in giving scathing looks to others who are at stages where even you were at one point. If we want the world to improve, we need to facilitate and encourage people to develop- being condescending only negates this. If you think someone is doing something wrong, help them. If they’re not hurting anyone and are just trying to learn, let them learn. And if they overtake you in their progress, maybe it’ll be you that they’re helping instead.

It’s all well enough saying this though, but at the end of the day, it’s not words we need, but change.

Of course, words can lead to this, but actions can too. Relying on others to change is something that we cannot guarantee. But we can dictate and manage our own behaviour. Instead of giving up in the face of adversity, continue and prevail. Continue to go to the gym as my friend did, and maybe change some opinions as you do so. Continue to learn that new language you’ve been trying to pick up, and if anyone say different, become fluent and triumph. Continue to try new things and learn, anyone who tells you otherwise is usually wrong.

Giving up doesn’t necessarily mean giving in. But giving up does mean sacrificing some progress that you could have been making. So persevere. I promise you that you’ll never regret your achievements that result.

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