Perception is not reality.

I take naff all responsibility for the lighbulb moment behind this post – @SpeccyWoo  and @sarknight have been duly awarded that honour – however I will admit that the content is all me.

I had the term *frightening* (in a playful banter stylie – natch) levelled at me by @SpeccyWoo yesterday – the reason why escapes me now – we were debating singers or some such nonsense I think…  Anyway the banter continued on in the same vein this morning. 

This isn’t new news to me as I’ve been told many times that I’m intimidating.  At work this happens a lot, and every now and again socially too.  I think it’s largely because I’m a bit of a gobshite (sorry – couldn’t think of a better descriptor) when I want to be, highly (and apparently, annoyingly) independent, don’t suffer fools and am quite direct in how I express myself, and my opinions.    

Frightening and intimidating aren’t brilliant words to be used to describe someone.  Especially when that someone is you.  Its not a complaint.  Merely an observation.  And I’ve accepted after many years that this is how I come across.

The caveat to be applied here is that my closest friends – the people who know the *real* me (a small but perfectly formed crew) – know what I’m really like.  I love my own company to the point of being told off for making like a hermit on occasion, I’m uber shy when plonked into a new social dynamic, think way too much for the average girl, hate being the centre of attention and am totally crap if you even vaguely pay me a compliment. 

On the positive side I regularly fall off the planet, dive into a bucket of wine and act like I don’t have a care in the world.  In addition to that I take total responsibility for providing my girlfriends with amusing stories about my love life, and the fruit loops I’ve met along the way. Plus you can always guarantee that I’m up for a party and dancing my ass off at the drop of a hat.   I know how to have fun.

You get the picture?  Basically I’m human.  Perfectly imperfect and totally fallible.

Now I work in a highly visible role within our organisation.  I look after internal communications therefore EVERYONE knows exactly who I am.  It doesn’t take a genius to work out that no organisation could / should or would tolerate an internal communications person that has a major *shy* attack every five minutes.  Computer simply says no. 

So bombastic and highly opinionated (B&HO) Mel comes out to play at work – the rest of the time it’s just little old me.   And that works 90% of the time. 

The other 10% of the time?  Well sometimes people decide that they prefer the full on B&HO version.  And you know what?  If they do, then that’s their loss, not mine.   The way I see it everyone’s a winner with this scenario.  Work get the best person for the job.  I get to dip my toe into both worlds. And my friends get someone they can laugh at, and more importantly with, who on occasion also helps to brighten things up.

So in my humble opinion perception isn’t always reality.

4 thoughts on “Perception is not reality.

  1. I think you described Nina Simone as frightening when I was trying to get her played, at which point I replied, “You’re frightening, but I still listen to you”. That said, from what I know of you, I don’t find you frightening or intimidating in the least.

    But let us throw a spanner in the works here. If you take a Sartrian view, we are as other people see us. The reality isn’t the one that we want to exist but the one that people see. However, fair or unfair we think it is, the collective view is the reality. All that we can do to change it is to act. [wo]Man is defined by their actions, not their intentions.

    What does all that mean? I have absolutely no idea. I guess it means that either you accept that some people see you like that and you live with it, or you have to find out what makes them think that way and act to rectify it. Not acting and not accepting are the path to mauvaise foi or bad faith – failing to accept that one has the freedom to choose.

    So beers right? 🙂

  2. I’ll take your spanner and raise you a suitable workman like tool….

    What’s of paramount importance here is that we not only comprehend how we are perceived, but that we understand how to modify our behaviour to reach our desired goal. The intent to change is great, but what is needed actually needed is action itself.

    I am quite comfortable with how I am viewed at work. The perception that some (not all) people have of me ensures that I dont have to deal with a lot of the political rubbish and sloping shoulders nonsense as I simply wouldnt truck it. Which is not a bad thing in my book.

    To my friends – and the people that feature in my life – I am mindful of how I behave around them as its important that they know me warts and all (as it were).

    We are all shaped by our experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – however we are all free to make our own choices in life. Its down to us to make the right choices.

    And damn skippy we’re doing beers!

  3. Like you, I’ve often been referred to as scary or intimidating. It used to really bother me and there have been times where I have tried to ‘soften’ my direct nature or wear something other than black in order to be more approachable. 

    In my work my ‘exterior’ serves me well, I get things done and I’m direct, honest, confident and don’t waste anyones time – especially my own – and am very ‘now’ in my approach to things that need my attention. I don’t mind being seen as scary at work – infact I take it as a compliment. 

    However inside/at home I’m different, I take things personally and I really care about those around me and what they think. I’ve no idea sometimes how I come across so together when inside I feel like I’m ‘wearing my Mums shoes’ 

    I’m at the point now where I’ve decided that I’m really cool with who I am, I have a wide circle of fabulous friends who know me well and who ‘get me’ – if someone hasn’t bothered looking below the surface – on a personal level – then to be honest they wouldn’t make good friend material anyway. All my friends are deep, balanced, kind, forward thinking and connected individuals – no room for anyone with stunted vision here. 

    I don’t think ‘wrong labelling’ is exclusive to us though – I have a good friend who is a programmer. I thought he was dull for months before I realised he’s hilariously funny, kind and thoughtful. I just hadn’t bothered looking past the geeky glasses and desire to solve all my problems….
           

    • I am spooked by the similarities between you and I. Even down to the wearing black religiously in the office!

      My social circle grew exponentially a few years back when I found myself suddenly single again after a long term relationship went futt. I went through a period where I amassed friends hand over fist regardless of the nature of the friendship.

      Since then I have learnt to be discerning. These days I only nurture proper friendships with people based on trust, openness and honesty, with people who don’t judge me, with whom I feel I can relax and most importantly with people who accept me.

      I know who and what I am these days. Something that was sadly missing until recently. I am no paddling pool of emotion, energy and thoughts. What’s far more interesting is what lies beneath that… And if you can’t see that then it really is your loss.

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