04/17/2009 07:08 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Susan Boyle: Lessons We Still Haven't Learned

Count me among the multitudes of the charmed. I, too, loved the story of the woman who walked on stage to the sound of snickering, only to shock and wow them all with the sound of her music. I heart Susan Boyle.

I've also been intrigued by the rising tide of voices proclaiming that, thanks to Susan Boyle, we have learned our lesson: We prejudged her before we heard her sing. We should have known better, and now we do.

Or do we?

I think there are several lessons that have gone unlearned. Here are three of them.

We're still judging Susan Boyle's life by our values, not hers

Consider this opening paragraph in a story by an Associated Press writer:

"Susan Boyle lives alone in a row house with her cat Pebbles, a drab existence in one of Scotland's poorest regions. She cared for her widowed mother for years, never married and sang in church and at karaoke nights at the pub."

I don't doubt that the AP writer would find that existence drab. But I don't think he's asked Susan Boyle how she views her own life. Maybe she does agree that it is drab. Or maybe she loves her life, with its space both for solitude at home and sociability at the pub. Maybe she sees her own region not as impoverished but as rich in spirit, culture, and community. Maybe her religion is important to her, and singing in church is, in her experience, not the least bit drab. Maybe she feels fortunate to have been able to be there for her mother at a time of such need. Maybe she does not feel at all sorry for herself because she is single.

Let's let Susan Boyle tell her own story. Maybe she will tell it in a song.

Read about the other two lessons here, at the "Living Single" blog at Psychology Today.