Here’s a secret. I’m a Black man in the United States. Not just a Black man, but over six foot tall and fat. I’m 43-years-old. A pianist. Two music degrees. I’ve lived with my parents the last nineteen years, 14 of which I have spent as their full-time caregiver. I’m broke. And I’m unemployed. In a pandemic, nonetheless.
Yes, I get judged. A lot. Particularly by people who have never walked in my size 13 EE shoes, been through half of what I have, or faced the decisions I have had to make.
There are people who have dismissed my fitness as a leader and music director, despite having invested well over half my life learning how to do so and taking the hits that come with it. Some have benefited directly from my experience and knowledge knowing full well it would have never come together without me and then turn around and take credit for my work and minimize the importance of my contributions to build their own profile. I had a pastor declare in front of a group that I had no business in music ministry, never mind that the guy barely knew me from Paul and I’d been doing it since he was in middle school. I’ve had people in the guise of friendship attempt to turn me into their “project.” The day after I was baptized, people were already questioning to my face whether any of it was legit.
People will judge you and more often than not, it will be based on things that have nothing to do with what you do. Your background. Your age. Your race. Your gender. Your perceived sexuality. The cross you bear. Your image. Fuck… I overheard women at one church where I was subbing complain that I should be sent home because of the length of my beard. It will have little to do with your talents and performance and everything to do with who they thank you are.
Particularly… It will be about how they see themselves compared to you.
Here’s the thing:
You cannot control what others think of you.
You cannot prove yourself to them.
You cannot win them over.
They’ve already made their decision and they will only entertain whatever supports their judgment. The only thing you can do is continue your best work and make sure these people are not in a position to affect it.
They’ll judge you no matter what you do. Let them.