Blog No. 49
I know the title sounds egotistical and I think this post is going to be more about perception in general, but my perspective is about me and the idea for this post game from the continuing misconceptions people maintain about me so that’s where the title came from. Also it sounds to me like something out of a nineteenth century children’s book and that’s cool. I want to also admit that I don’t handle some things well and that fact is multiplied when people are involved. Comments that some people feel are just easy chitchat feel like last minute high pressure exams to me. I try to be open to the perspective of the other person, but being asked the same questions all day by everyone I meet take their toll on me.
I don’t get how people see me. I have a clear impression of myself in my mind and that never seems to match up with how other people see me. Sure everyone sees them self in a certain light and everyone else sees them in their own light; there is a whole body of physiology and philosophy trying to sort all that out, I’m not going to. I’m going to try to figure out why people see me in a certain way. I know I have a “look” or that I seem a certain way or seem like a certain type, but that’s not me.
I am constantly asked by the same people what I am doing on the weekend. I work nearly every weekend. It’s usually the time I get the most hours. I understand that this is mostly just small talk and the majority of people tend to work a fixed week and have the weekends free to do fun activates. I also know I can overreact to things that are usually just meant as simple pleasantries (have I mentioned that I am awkward yet?) but the issue comes when it is someone who knows me well, knows my work situation and consistently asks me what I am doing this weekend. It is (to me) the equivalent of me asking someone every week what they are doing on Monday. I can only answer the question in so many ways. It gets tedious for me I can only imagine what it’s like for the other person. It’s different when they ask if I’m working. That’s thoughtful and I appreciate that they asked a question that fits my situation. The fact that it stills feels like the final question in Jeopardy is my own hang-up.
But that’s not the misconception. The perception is that I am the kind of person that goes out and parties every weekend. I’m not. I have had my days of going out but it was never often. I am an unwavering introvert. The thought of going out is exhausting. Sometimes I get the craving to go out, but more often than not I find the experience disappointing. The aspect of going out that I enjoy is seeing people I know (a tough job for an introvert). I am lucky that my brother is so much of an extrovert. He built his life and work out on the town. He did all the legwork for me. I can go out to a bar and I know people (usually pretty nice people). I have a limited amount of energy though and can’t do it very often.
Where does that perception come from? Is it society in general? Do I fit the 18 – 35 mold (that marketers love) and must follow the trends? Am I judged on my brother? He goes out on the weekends (though he is usually working) so I have to go out too? Is it something about how I specifically look? I have been told that I look like a party kind of guy and that I look like a player (a 90s term for a guy who is good with women and takes advantage of that). I can’t even begin to work out why it is each individual person expects me to go out on the weekend. I just react poorly to the question and they wonder why I’m an ass.
There are lots of other examples of perceptions of me I have encountered that don’t make sense to me (or compared to how I see myself at least). I am told that I look sad when I am out alone (when I am usually just enjoying the solitude) I was once told I was really smart in university because I talked in every class (I just couldn’t stand the silence after a prof asked a question) and the list goes on.
I suppose you can never truly know how someone will perceive you and I don’t think you change it, but maybe you can influence it. People think I’m weird, or quiet, or sad or an asshole. Those things are true because that’s how I’m seen. There is something to it but it is never the whole picture. Different friends see different things not to mention strangers and acquaintances. To everyone you know you are known as something. You can’t let it bother you and I need to lighten up. But those things are still going to bother me, it’s who I am.
4 thoughts on “The Perception of Me”
I have two theatre stories.
The first is about me. It was about 25 years ago and I was playing a hunchback with a speech impediment. Everyone told me I was brilliant. I really felt the part and it was deeply moving for me. Someone filmed a performance and when I saw it there I was walking around looking and talking normal, just a little bent over. What I was feeling didn’t show on the outside.
I was directing a fellow- he was a good enough actor- but I had to keep an eye on him because he had a tendency to go deep in himself. He would be experiencing strong and amazing emotions related to the scene he was in but to the rest of us it just looked like he was standing there doing nothing. No one knew what he really feeling.
I remember coming home as a teenager and my dad was waiting up for me. It was quite late- i wasn’t in trouble or anything but he was worried about me. When I came in he said “sure is dark out there, huh?” At the time I was shocked at the ridiculousness of saying that at night. But the poor guy didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how to express what he was feeling, but he was trying. In hindsight I wish I’d been gentler in my response.
No one really knows who you are or what you’re really feeling. They have the choice to not say anything because they don’t know what to say or to try and possibly say something inadequate. I have come to the conclusion that most people say something because they really do care, even if it’s something stupid. Even though we introverts don’t help them at all.
I have to admit that I am not always as nice as I can be with my answers either.
Your stories about theater are a great example of the disconnected people have with the world they inhabit and the world that exists around them. Some people never see the discrepancy and some people can’t see anything but and very few can see it in other people. Even if you can see it going on it’s a tough one to know how to articulate.
I try to be patient with the people who care about me but sometimes I wish they could understand that it’s okay to live a life that doesn’t line up with the world around us.
We all see ourselves differently than the world around us does, whether for better or worse. Not everyone will have a full image of you, or have been around you long enough to see how to react to different environments and situations. Someone once told me they thought I must be “super smart” just because I came prepared to a class with proper accessories. Perceptions can be drawn from the smallest details, or even from the details that (in the end) don’t matter very much.
“Thanks for saving me from that creep, Fry.” “Hey, that’s what I do.”
That kind of reminds me of you and I. To me, you’re Ben. That comes with a million memories, and many different traits I view you as. Still, I like to see you as a whole and not just the single traits.
I think it’s more telling of the person who makes a comment like “you must be super smart” than it is for the person they are making the comment about.