"The hardest things to examine are the things right in front of your nose. "
I heard this today in a lecture I was listening to, and it seemed to ring very true. I'm pretty great at spotting the flaws in everyone around me. I can watch others from a distance and easily make assumptions about their motivations and thinking. I don't know anything for sure, but I often convince myself that I do. I fight against it, but it seems to be human nature. I am not alone in this behavior. I'm pretty sure others do this, too. Then again, maybe that is just me assuming that I know what others are thinking, again.
The truth is that I'm fairly imperfect. I know this might come as a shock, but it is true. The Girl got into a tense "discussion" with another girl at school, who told her, "Whatever, you just don't understand because your parents are perfect." This was my favorite part of the story. "Perfect?" I said. She responded with some harsh eyeroll, "Mo - om." Right, stay focused. But it made me think about perception again. The Girl's friend has a perception of what life in a two parent house is like. She believes she knows the inside, but of course no one knows the inside except for those living in it. And it turns out, we might not even know ourselves that well.
I went to college believing that I was tall. At 5'3, I am taller than my older sister. My father is probably 5'10, and my mother tops out at 5'5. We don't have height on our side. I grew up believing that I was tall because I was the Tallest Offspring. People in the family asked me to get them things from the TOP SHELF. My roommates found my assertions about my height hilarious. They all pitched in a got me a step stool as a birthday gift. They laughed uproariously when I opened it. But here's the thing . . . I didn't get the joke. I was so entrenched in believing I was tall, my only reaction was, "Why would I need a stool?" They explained, none too gently, that I was short. That's when the premed student pulled out a medical textbook that showed the average height for a woman to be 5'4 to 5'9.
Internal revelations can be painful. I remember coming to grips with my habit of worrying with a friend. "Am I worrier?" I asked her. "You worry about everything." She responded, and then watching my faced added, "Don't start worrying about being a worrier." Which was, of course, what I was doing. It was a harsh wake up. It feels a lot like the first time you watch The Sixth Sense. After you know everything, you are like, "Wait, a minute! Hold on!" And then you review everything you've seen and realize that it all makes sense and that you should have seen it. Duh.
I imagine all humans struggle with the who they wish they were, and the who they actually are. I long to be infinitely patient, unfailingly kind, and UBER organized. Sometimes I am some of those things, but other times I'm not. Yet, because humans live hidden lives, the person I am remains unseen, and everyone around me forms their own perceptions and ideas of who I must be. I carry the weight of those perceptions - we all do. The person others believe us to be sits on our shoulders, and when we step outside their expectations, they become confused.
None of this is to say that I had particularly difficult or trying day. I'm not struggling with an identity crisis either - at least not that I'm aware of! I often think about things like reality vs. perception - often in the context of the classroom. A students misbehavior can often be misunderstood or misinterpreted. They sigh because they are tired from being up late at night, helping their parent finish a job, or watching a younger sibling, but a teacher interprets it as a sigh of disrespect and they feel the sting of perception.
I used to read into almost everything - looking for hidden meaning in movements or glances from one person to another. Now I try to accept things just as they are. Hello means hello and doesn't convey some deeper message with it. As my grandmother used to say, "There's no use worrying over it. Time will tell one way or the other." This is also deeply true. I don't have to divine my way into understanding your motivations or intentions, sooner or later they will out themselves, until then, you and I can live in harmony. We are content in our similar differences, and as for any fighting, you and I were meant for better things.
Keep moving forward,