Growing up a middle child for the first ten years of my life turned me into an observer. Someone who quietly watched people and how they behaved. Being an introvert, I learned to depend on myself for entertainment as I hardly had any friends. I would make up all sort of games and the kind of imagination I had helped me create a world of my own.  My favorite game was observing people and then putting them into six groups- attention seekers, chili peppers, trying too hard, fireworks, sheep and oxygen.

Let me explain in more detail what I meant.

The “attention seekers” were the people who no matter what happened wanted attention- negative or positive. Someone could be dying, and all they cared about was how sad they were. I would chuckle and wait for the moment when the drama started, and then I would pat myself on the back and sit and watch them with a smirk on my face.
The “chili peppers” were the bossy, arrogant people, who were just straight out rude in your face- like a bully. Being the quiet dreamer at school, I encountered many of them, and I hated those people.
The next was the “trying too hard,” those people tried way too hard to please everyone, but the sadness in their own eyes was apparent. For them fitting in was the most critical thing in the world and they were too scared to show their real self.
I loved the “fireworks” people . They were straightforward and said what they believed. Once they were honest about how they felt, they looked happier and beautiful and had a special glow about themselves.
The “sheep” were the happy go lucky ones who were happy just existing. I liked them but also saw them as followers.
And the “oxygen” people were the ones who were perfect! They were my heroes. They breathed air into a room as soon as they entered, their positive energy was a source of peace for everyone around them. They were too perfect, I could never be like them. 

I know this all sounds silly, but I was judging people at an age when I had no clue  about their complexities and their paths. 

But as an adult, I have come to realize that we all have those little annoying character traits in us. All the things that bother me in others, live within me too. Sometimes when I’m at a big gathering and feel invisible the need to seek attention does pop up, but I recognize it. When someone cuts me off in a line or is wrong(in my opinion), and I want to lose my temper and the arrogance of “why me” angers me. Other times when the daily stresses of life have drained me out, and I want to sit back and let someone else take charge and just be a follower.
My question then is that, why are we so judgmental towards others if we possess the same negative traits? Why because we have learned to recognize our inner demons we accuse others who are still on the path to self-improvement? As children we are taught to judge others- don’t talk to strangers, do you want to be fat like that? you need to study or you will grow up to be homeless, wash your face before you sleep or you won’t be beautiful, etc. We learn to look at others as they are different from us yet the truth is- we are all the same. We were all placed on earth in the search for inner and outer love. We tear people down, criticize, hurt, demean and categorize them.
So today when someone upsets you, look within and ask yourself if you haven’t done something like that before. Try to erase the lines that divide us and understand that deep down we are souls in search of unconditional acceptance, unlimited understanding, and unquestionable loyalty.


  • Tami Shaikh

    MFA Creative Writing and MA in Educational Leadership

    Mom, storyteller, author, writing mentor and a student of life, who has contributed to the Huffington Post, Mind & Body Network and many other sites.