We all have “things”…”labels” we attach to ourselves over our lifetime. We give them to ourselves or others give them to us. We take these with us wherever we go, like a sack. Not good,…but not unusual. Our labels may be these: helpful, funny, sarcastic, neurotic, sweet, gay, straight, bitter, smart fat, thin, hostile, workaholic, rainmaker, inconsiderate, or connected. Any of these sound familiar? Or perhaps, we may be popular, a loner, talented, tone deaf, sympathetic, insensitive, self-involved, rich, poor, religious, agnostic, evangelical, republican, democrat, ecologically minded, animal lover, athletic, spastic, good with numbers, bad at math, or fun at parties. I was often called “fun at parties”. What does that really mean anyway? Have you ever been called a good conversationalist, easy to talk to, self-involved, awkward, beautiful, average, ugly, technically challenged, or good with gadgets? The list can be almost infinite. Are you imaginative, creative, dull, strange, bizarre, old, young, people lover, people hater, effective or useless? Do other people use some of these labels to describe you? We’ve heard people refer to other people as “she’s a saint”, “he’s a freak”, “she’s in her own world”, “he can’t help himself (he can’t help himself do what?), “she really knows how to get things done”, “give him an inch, and he’ll take a yard”, “she lights up a room”, or “he’s such a bright light”. Any of these ring a bell?
What happens when perception gets turned on it’s head? What happens when all your life you think of yourself as funny, but you meet someone who says that you’re not that funny? Does this mean that you’re not funny anymore, or just that one person doesn’t think you’re funny? Makes you think. For that person you are not funny, you might still have others rolling in the aisle. Are they wrong? Are you? Perception is reality.
What happens when you believe yourself to be someone who cares about someone else, but they don’t feel as though you care about them? Does this mean that you don’t really care, or just that they don’t feel you caring? Doesn’t really matter, in the end perception is reality.
What happens if you believe yourself to have a good relationship with your children, that you’ve been a good parent, that your kids have turned out to be reasonably good citizens, but they let you know many years later that you weren’t really all that good? Maybe you could have been home more, you could have been more attentive to their needs, you could have listened more…whatever it may be? It’s not possible to roll the film back on those past years. How do you defend your good parenting? You can’t. Perception is reality.
How can you fight perception? It is after all a person’s opinion. It is not right or wrong…it just is. It is upsetting that someone else may not see what you’re seeing. Perceptions are so intermixed with emotions, history, and memories that it would be difficult to convince someone that they’re perception is wrong, or for them to be convinced that yours is right.
In the end, I guess, you live, and others perceive. One person’s reality is not always another’s. It’s hard to accept this at times.