Growing up, there was a little joke or maybe it was a way to help remember how to spell assume but it went like this – when you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
I’m not sure I fully grasped that pseudo-definition until now.
We make so many assumptions each day – and many of them are about other people. In this age of fast information, learning about others via social media and lack of real communication, we fall back on assumptions to fill in the blanks about a new friend or a relative we haven’t seen in a while or a co-worker.
We take one attribute we know and start connecting a bunch of dots about them – “Oh, they have an electric car so they must care about the environment. >> And if they care about the environment, they must believe in global warming. >> And if they believe in global warming, they must be looking to reduce their carbon footprint. >> And if they are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, they must also recycle.” And then when we freak out because they don’t actually recycle, what does that say about us?
The trouble with assumptions is that at some point, we believe they are actually true. And when someone doesn’t meet the expectations that our assumptions have created, we react and can easily get mad at them because we think they’ve somehow done something wrong! Thus, making an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
I’m not saying that we should stop assuming altogether because I’m not sure it is possible to stop. It is a very natural thing to try to fill in the blanks of someone, but it is really important for us to check our assumptions and not hold the other person to those expectations nor ‘punish’ the other person when we learn that assumption we made is wrong.
I write everyday because it allows me to voice what is at the surface. Once that is out of my head, I can dig in another layer deeper. My daily writing practice has been my greatest exploration of self and humanity. Sign up here to receive these thought nuggets in your inbox on the daily.