I remember distinctly the first time I ever really understood the phrase: Never judge a book by its cover.
It was years ago, and my family was boating out in Kachemak Bay before we ended up pulling into the small coastal town of Seldovia to stay the night.
We were walking down Main Street (seemingly the only street in Seldovia) and came upon this dilapidated looking hotel that was supposed to be our home for the night.
I remember taking one look at the broken behemoth thinking, that’s where we’re staying the night?
I whined to my parents as we made our way across the creaky boards to its entrance and refused to believe my mom that I would love the inside.
If the thing doesn’t fall down on me first.
Sure enough, I opened the door and my breath was taken away.
The place was amazing. Decorated, cozy, and containing a memorable chess set that was propped up by the roaring fire, I could not believe that inside this disheveled seaside building was this welcoming and homey interior.
So unlike what the outside had me believe.
And that was the day I learned to never judge a book by its cover.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are in their adult lives and have yet to find the meaning as to what that saying insinuates.
Luckily, the judging of the hotel was an innocent way for me to learn about judging appearances, being an inanimate object and all. Where it doesn’t come so innocently though is when we judge people.
I get it.
Impressions are the first feelings, opinions, or ideas we have about people. Without having had a conversation, we’re able to judge people purely off the vibe we get from them. The vibe can come from what they’re wearing, how they carry themselves, and how they interact with others.
It often comes unconsciously, and without having realized it, we’ve made our assumptions about who the person is and how their story goes.
I can say with confidence that I’m a good example of a book being judged by her cover.
It has been my twenty-third year of living and the most common constant when it comes to assumptions about me has been one word, and one descriptive word only:
The number of times that that word has been used to describe my looks, personality, intelligence, and ultimately, the cover of my book, is too many to count.
Trying to see how other people see me is confusing because they’re only looking at one piece of me, the visible part. Without even taking the time to get to know me and my pages of mystery, intrigue, romanticism, humor, and bouts of despondency, they’ve already passed judgement about me based purely on how I look to them.
I know, because I’ve been told time and time again that the combination of being attractive, intelligent, tall and confident about it all is intimidating to most people. Instead of getting to know me on the inside, people project their insecurities about how I make them feel and assume things about me that simply aren’t true.
With guys, they simply don’t approach me. They conclude that I’m taken, too good enough, cocky, or they simply don’t have the manhood to be with a woman who doesn’t rely on them for validation and security, and quite frankly, is taller than they are.
With girls, they get jealous. Daggers get thrown at me from vindictive eyes. These insecure girls would rather bring me down than get to know the real me.
I know I’ve talked about intimidation before and how it doesn’t reflect who I am but how the other person feels about me, but it nonetheless hurts my feelings to be called this word over and over again.
It’s like I’m not given a chance. And in reality, while I appear confident and sure of myself, there’s a part of me like most people that’s incredibly insecure. When I’m lumped into the category of being intimidating, it makes me feel secluded and alone, not at all how people assume I am.
There is so much more to people that meets the eye, and if we all looked past our own insecurities and assumptions, we might learn that people are far more than what they look like, and instead of judging off image, we might judge off character and personality.
I was lucky enough to learn at a a young age how falsely wrong I was to assume that the inside would look exactly like the outside of that ramshackle hotel. I learned that day not to judge books by their covers.
See, like most books, there are beginnings, middles, and endings that are separated by chapters.
People are the same way.
But you’ll never get to read their marvelous tales and exciting chapters, never be a part of the ongoing storyline if you get intimidated by their cover.