“But what if there really were two paths? I wanna be on the one that leads to awesome.” Kid President

A few months ago, this little gem went viral. The Kid is super cute and it made me smile. Then, I stumbled across The True Story of Kid President,  whose real name is Robbie.
Robbie has had a rare disease called osteogenesis imperfecta since birth. Also known as “brittle bone disease,” which basically makes your bones “break easily.” Since birth, Robbie has had over 70 breaks. He creates these videos with his brother-in-law because they wanted to have fun and make people smile. At the end, he poses the question “What will you do to make the world more awesome?” 
Watching the second one after the first was one of those moments where I sit back and remember that everyone has a story. No matter how happy or sad people look, how big or small they are, how shy or outgoing they seem to be, everyone has STUFF. Maybe they look healthy and great but they aren’t at all. Or the opposite – maybe they limp or have some sort of skin disorder – but they feel great and what is weird to you is normal for them.
I’ve been meaning to share the following story because it really made me think. about how we judge and perceive others based solely on their image.
I was talking to a group of teenagers about pursuing careers they are passionate about, taking the things that they love and turning it into a way to get paid doing it. They were intrigued and relatively attentive. When it came up as part of a story I was telling that I have RA, they all of a sudden sat up taller in their seats and started looking at my knees and my ankles. Staring at my legs, really, which makes me smile as I write this because I knew what was going throught most of their heads (‘she doesn’t look sick.’)
It was so interesting to me… and I knew that in that moment, I made an impression on them. I looked absolutely fine. So when I told them I was picked last in gym class my whole life, or that some days it’s a struggle to walk, or that my ankles swell up more often than not, they immediately changed their attitudes – started paying more attention, told each other to stop talking if one of their classmates was being disrespectful. It was pretty amazing to witness their behavior based on one story and what they now knew about me.
Perhaps it made me seem more “real” to them, more relateable.  Maybe all of a sudden, I had substance.
Not being judgmental is one of the things I hope I can instill in my future kids very early on but the fact is, most adults do it, too.
Everyone you meet has STUFF. Be compassionate. Accept people for who they are. I’m not saying be friends with everyone. But be friendly. Or nice enough. Or treat everyone like you would want to be treated (I know, I’m really going back to the basics now ;).) Just try not to pass judgment based solely on image.
I’ve always said that the only place anyone should ever be judged is in the courtroom. And even then, I’m not so sure.
Don’t think you’re judgmental? Watch at least the first couple minutes of this TED Talk by Cameron Russell and let me know what you think in the comments below. 🙂
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