Friday, March 4, 2011

Perceptions

It is striking to me how one's self-image and the way others perceive us can be so divergent. This week alone I have been described variously as scary, mean, pushy, and courageous. And I see myself as none of those things.
It reminds me of being shy and withdrawn and meek as a teenager. I felt like I was just a quiet, solitary kind of kid. What I didn't realize was that it appeared as though I was arrogant for laying low. Fortunately someone had the cojones to point that out, and I was glad to adjust. I certainly did not want people to think I was a snob.
Or when I was in college driving a beat up Blazer. That thing was loud and ugly and gnarly. I just hoped it would get me a little further along. But apparently it made me look like some sort of reckless redneck with no regard.
Now, being seen and described as courageous is quite the compliment, I won't lie. Especially when the speaker wasn't talking about my performance in the mountains. And especially by someone as successful and thoughtful and experienced as the person who said it. I trust that he knows courageous people. And to be lumped in with them is quite the praise.
What does it matter, I suppose, how one appears? What does it matter to every once in a while scare someone? The ways we are seen and described certainly affect us. That should be alright, as long as we do not act entirely based on how we are seen, either proactively to appear a certain way, or reactively so as to not appear certain ways. Right?

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