Don't Judge a Book Too Soon

By Amanda Vining, Regular Contributor September 11, 2015

A few weeks ago, I took a mini-road trip with a friend of mine. As soon as we were on the highway, my friend looked at me and said, “Since we have several hours ahead of us, I’m going to give you a thorough education in Kanye West, my favorite music artist.” I immediately rolled my eyes and said, “Ugh, I can’t stand Kanye. Please don’t put his music on.” My friend earnestly asked, “What is it that you don’t like about Kanye? Have you ever listened to his music and tried to understand his work?” I rolled my eyes a second time and said, “Well, he’s just a jerk. He interrupted Taylor Swift and his lyrics aren’t always the most positive. I just don’t like him.”

My friend smiled and told me that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge someone without taking the time to get to know the person beyond the few news headlines I’ve read.

The following three hours were filled with Kanye’s music and my friend’s interjected commentary detailing the inspiration for certain lines, the motivation for releasing specific tracks, and tidbits about Kanye’s upbringing. I learned that Kanye produced his first album while hospitalized from a horrific car accident that nearly took his life. I was made aware of the tribute he pays to other artists in his songs and how he uses a track from an existing artist he admires in almost all of his works. I learned that Kanye West has broken barriers from the very beginning by approaching his music in very non-traditional ways and that he didn’t give in to the pressure of the music industry when he was initially turned away.


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Perhaps it’s not a musical artist or a celebrity whom you’ve judged before fully knowing; maybe it’s a fellow student in one of your classes, a friend whose actions you wrote off before listening to his/her side, or a cultural tradition you’ve never taken the time to explore.

For me, the road trip I took with my friend not only led to my music library containing several Kanye West songs, but it was also a wake up call about how close-minded and quick to judge I can be.

Like most people, I’d like to believe that I’m a fairly open-minded person, but with being open-minded comes the ability to be humbled. My friend humbled me on the drive we took together when he challenged my preconceived notions of a person based on a few select headlines I had chosen to use to curate an image. After the trip was over, I was left thinking about other people and situations in which I have been quick to conjure an opinion without truly taking the time to understand all there is to know.

From this road trip with my friend, I’m taking away the lesson of the importance of not jumping to conclusions. I am aware of how critical it is to afford each person I encounter the opportunity to express all sides of her/himself and how it’s my duty as a fellow human being to give the time and patience to allow other people the ability to be seen for their holistic selves. I am still human, so I will probably face moments in the future where I am once again quick to judge, but from this moment forward I am promising to make a concerted effort not to judge others based on a few fragmented pieces of information.

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About Amanda

AMANDA_VINING_writer_bio.jpgAmanda lives in Austin, Texas, where she strives every day to be as BRAVE and BeautyFULL as she can be. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a self-designed degree in Children’s Rights, and Duke University with a certificate in Nonprofit Management. In her spare time, Amanda can be found scouring Pinterest for her latest craft project, drinking coconut mochas in her favorite coffee shop, and creating content for the sexual violence prevention organization and blog, Talk About Rape ( 


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