Perception is Reality

One of my favorite places.

Miles run today: 10

Words written in my novel so far: 45,701

Kilometers my BFF is making me run tomorrow to benefit Haiti: 5

Perception is reality.

It’s one of those old PR phrases that has stuck with me through the years. When I was a teenager, I remember reading that simply swinging your arms when you walk gives the impression of confidence, making some stranger less likely to attack you.

So when I was home from college for New Year’s Eve one year, I remember going to a party with my good friend at one of her friend’s houses. The guy worked at Gap and had a fixation about my friend being a perfect size 6 classic fit jean. But I digress.

After the party, I walked with my friend back to her apartment along dark Atlanta streets. A car would drive by, and I would say, “Quick! Swing your arms!” I’m pretty sure that’s what kept us safe that night.

Back in middle school, the Age of Awkwardness and Vulnerability, I was introduced to a mean but interesting little game at a slumber party. It was exactly the sort of game that a.) would make men cringe, and b.) no middle school girl should ever play.

Today, they probably splash things like this all over Facebook. But back in the Dark Ages of Computers, we used pen and paper.

We were down in someone’s basement listening to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” over and over again. Each girl was given a piece of paper with a roughly-sketched table (now easily created on Excel), and at the top was a list of things like Face, Body, Personality. The list was passed around the room anonymously (Is any game amongst middle-school-aged girls truly anonymous? We knew each other’s handwriting like we knew every lyric to the latest Wham! song.).

Every detail of your outward being was scrutinized and critiqued. And then you got the paper to keep forever. Once seen, you can’t unsee things, people.

Just as I suspected, the old adage my mom kept chanting, “Everyone will be too worried about themselves to worry about what you look like/what you’re doing/what you’ve said” was wrong. Complete bunkum.

They noticed.

They recorded.

They reported their findings.

As I might have said before, it’s amazing that any of us survive our preteen years.

But I clung to the positives, the parts where they said I was kind and reminded them of Great Shape Barbie.

Years later, a.) I am very glad that no one has ever asked me to play that game again, and b.) I still try to focus on the positives.

Carrie Rubin, over at The Write Transition, wrote about the one word you would use to describe yourself and others. Do you project confidence? Kindness? Are you creative? Wild? Are you the dependable one? Or the cruise director?

How well does your own one word match up to how others view you? Would your family agree with the word you’ve chosen? Would your friends or co-workers?

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