Have you done something unexpected or out of the norm? Have you caught yourself saying “What would THEY think?” It might have been your family, friend, or partner’s perceptions you worried about. How important are people’s perceptions of you?
What if I told you this is me riding naked on a motorcycle, popping a wheelie. How would you perceive me? Would you think I’m a daredevil, an eccentric, or that I’m crazy? Would you think “that’s cool” or “she’s too old to be doing that!”
This statue caught my eye and I had to take a picture of it. It’s different and thought-provoking. What if I did something like this? All of a sudden, I got this familiar nauseating feeling. Ugh! I hate wasting time worrying about what people think of me! Yet I did it again.
Perception is kind of a big deal in my culture. Not in a good way. It’s usually related to disgrace or embarrassment. I heard about it over and over growing up. “What would people think? What would they say?” Once, I even heard someone say “How can you walk with your head held high again?” Well, my head is sitting just fine on top of my neck. I have no problem holding it up whatsoever.
We’re not suppose to air our dirty laundry. It’s something we hide. Guess what? This laundry has been washed, hung, dried, put away, and put on display. All perception ever did was take precious time away and bring needless worrying.
Ever since I was young, I bought into this whole idea of the importance of perception. At first I worried about what my friends in school thought (about my name, my clothes, my hair, my skin color, if I was cool enough… etc. etc.) As I got older, I worried more about what my parents, relatives, and co-workers thought of me (how I got married early, had a child early, divorced early, got married again, got in lots of trouble… you get the point). When I reached my mid- thirties, I realized something. All these perceptions that people had of me didn’t really impact my life. It didn’t pay my bills. It didn’t feed my family. It didn’t send my kids to school. The older I got, the more I stopped worrying about what others thought. But did I completely stop thinking about it?
Sadly, it still creeps inside my head every now and then. After I published PPOD #13 yesterday (something to believe in), the thought popped in my head. Today, that same thought snuck in again. Damn, this bad habit is hard to break. “Would this embarrass my family? How I can I do this to them? What would their friends think?” All these thoughts raced through my mind. It’s like a domino effect of ridiculous thoughts! One thought leads to another, and another, until it doesn’t even make sense anymore.
Again, perception played useless mind games with me. Now I really did it! I put it out there. There goes the dirty laundry! Waving around like a badge of dishonor for everyone to see. Now everyone would know how messed up I was. Now everyone would know my business. Now everyone would know how my seemingly perfect life was so imperfect! I’m sure I’m not the only one on this planet with an imperfect life. Yet perception kept nagging “What would people say?”
“STOP IT!” I had to yell it in my head. First of all, my husband is not embarrassed of my past. He never was. He met me with all my baggage. He never threw it my face. Instead, he helped me carry them. He carried it with me until I was ready to leave them behind. Second, my kids aren’t embarrassed of me either. In fact, it’s quite the opposite (how the heck did I get so lucky). Am I embarrassed of myself? Definitely not! My past is part of me. It made me who I am today. Why should I be ashamed of it? I can’t write about experiences without divulging something about me, good or bad. Is it my mom’s perception I worry about? My mom loved me through it all. I think she stopped caring about what other people thought of me a long time ago. I knew it hurt her to hear some of the mean things people said. But she realized they were just words. It didn’t change our situation in life. God bless her! She’s a tough woman for being a mother to a daughter like me. My family (nieces and some cousins ) have been supportive of my blog and I love them to death. So, whose perception am I really concerned about? After thinking it through, there is no one else’s perception I care to know or hear. For the umpteenth time, I worried for nothing.
“An ye harm none, do what ye will.” Something I learned when I was introduced to Wicca. Yup, another story for another day. I don’t blog to put anyone on blast and it’s not to cast blame on anyone. Mistakes I made in the past are all on me. My blog is not about gaining pity, money, nor notoriety. I write because it helps me heal. It’s a form of expression and self-discovery. The purpose of the PPOD is to remind myself to celebrate one positive aspect of my life everyday. This is part of my growth. It’s part of my evolution. My blog doesn’t hurt anyone. It only hurts me a little to remember. After writing about it, I feel better. Alles gut and life goes on.
Although I might not be able to completely block the thought of perception, I will make a conscious effort to keep it out. Today, I bid goodbye to the thoughts in my head that say “what will people think?” Today, I say farewell to perception.
Life’s too short. I don’t want to waste any more time worrying about other people’s opinion of me and how life should be, according to them. I plan to live my life the way I choose and the way I think it should be lived. At the end of this life, I want to be able to say “I did it my way.”