Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Perception vs Reality

Perception-Versus-RealityOver the past year or so, I’ve experienced a few things that have me thinking a lot lately about perception. Specifically, how our perception of others and their perception of us can be skewed by expectations and biases.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone; I have my own biases and preconceived notions. However, I do my best to fight it. I don’t write here about stories I’ve read that I feel are unfair or false, and I don’t spread unsubstantiated rumors. If one squeaks by me and I find out later that it is false, I retract it and apologize if necessary. I’m also not very pleased when I find out that such things are being said about me, especially because I rarely get the added retraction and apology.

I’m a little perplexed when I hear that things have been said about me that I feel have no foundation. Sometimes I chalk it up to manipulative game-players who have nothing better to do than try to move people around like pawns. Other times, I think it’s out of genuine, but misplaced, concern. What bothers me, though, is when it is voiced to others and I only hear about it indirectly. This is unfair, and I feel that it is the result of people having unrealistic expectations of me. Those expectations are their own, and not the result of any promises from me.

I’ve had this problem before. In fact, I’ve had to deal with it since I can remember. I am often very outspoken, I tend to make it clear how I feel about things, and I have a very low tolerance for bullshit. I’m sure that I’m not pleasant for a lot of people to be around. When I hear outright idiocy, I can’t just sit there and smile and nod. I had a few memorable moments in departmental meetings where I managed to tone it down and NOT say “What the fuck?!” but still managed to convey my contempt for what I was hearing. It’s actually a wonder that I have the friends that I do...but I’d say that my closest friends are the ones who have the same attitude. We get along well in that regard, and I’d say we understand each other.

Some might say that I’m “not a team player.” I’ve heard that before. In the context in which it was conveyed, I took it to heart, and I made some changes in my own attitude. It worked out well for all involved, and I have no regrets. However, I have my limits, and I have never been one to “go along to get along.” If something bothers me, I make it known. This is why you’ll never see me in politics: I don’t pander. (Also, I don’t have enough money to get into politics, but that’s beside the point.)

opening door to another planetMaybe it’s foolish of me to expect the same from others. If someone were to ask me about a situation or an incident, I’d do my best to be honest, but kind. I’m not an unkind person, certainly never intentionally. But if your perception tells you that there is something wrong with the way I’m behaving, or with the expression on my face, or with what I’m saying or doing, I expect specific examples. If you have a beef with me, you’d better have clear and concise reasons for it, something other than “I just have a feeling.” If you expect me to behave a certain way, your disappointment when I don’t is not on me...that is on you for having unrealistic expectations about what you think I should be or do or say.

I’ve always felt that it’s dangerous to try to mold people into what our own expectations of them might be. It assumes a power on our own part, one in which we can shape someone into our idea of perfection; it also closes our minds to unique personalities and ideas different from our own. It also is highly disrespectful to the person or group we are trying to shape, because it negates their right to their individuality and their own sense of self. No one is a winner in this sort of situation. You lose because you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and you miss out on the good and unique qualities of this person or group; they lose because they feel that it’s not enough for them to be who they are...they have to be what you want them to be in order to feel accepted.

I tend to think that conformity is way overrated. I’ve always loved this Cass Elliot song. “Make your own kinda music, sing your own special song. Make your own kinda music, even if nobody else sings along.” (Bonus video appearance: hipster Sammy Davis, Jr.!) I encourage everyone to make their own kind of music. I’d appreciate the same chance, without judgment or condemnation.


  1. Well said sweet friend. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. I relate too well to everything you say here.

  3. You could also use the old Linda Ronstadt song "Different Drum"! I smell what you're stepping' in, sweetheart! You know I'm not a conformist, and you know what I love most about you is that you don't beat around the bush! By the same token, if you said it, you meant it, and what you said is what you meant... nothing more, nothing less! There is nothing more dangerous than a "word twister", which is why, when I realize that someone is, in fact, one of those, I give them wide, wide berth, and avoid contact with them as much as possible!

  4. Thing about me and my feelings is that I stand behind them... and anyone who knows me knows that is part of my MO... but it doesn't matter to those who don't 'get it'... and if they aren't a factor of any direct impact in my life, I am so who cares about what they say...

    ... and this is also to show how weak or easily lead people handle things... whatever reason, whether you are physically imposing like Ken or myself, or quick-witted and well-informed such as yourself, people will always be threatened. They become decidedly non-confrontational and would rather cower with others and try to undermine you as a person.

    F-em' if they can't take a joke..! Never let 'em see your sweat..!

  5. i get exactly where you are with this. i'm so there myself.



I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?