Many have said, perception is reality. There’s a lot of truth to that. Too much truth. It’s like the meme I shared a few weeks back showing the cylinder and depending upon where someone is standing, they either see a circle or a square. Both are true, but neither sees the entire picture; the entire truth.
The same goes for the people we know. How we perceive them is how we know them. Much of the time, however, it’s not everything we want or need to know. How often has someone said or done something that has completely taken us by surprise, something we never expected them to say and do?
A friend of mine once told me that he didn’t want to reveal something he did earlier in his life, because he didn’t want me to change my opinion of him.
I said, “It doesn’t matter, because me knowing something new about you doesn’t change who you are, only my perception of you. I can’t hold my perception of you against you. That’s on me.”
Then again, all of us chooses how much to reveal to others. It’s a mask we put on every day. I think we’re all afraid that if we took that mask off, even for a second, we will be shunned and despised.
It’s always a risk to reveal something “new” about ourselves. People will either embrace it, or put their hands out and back away as if warding off evil spirits. I put quotes around “new,” because, although people can and do change, we don’t always reveal that change the moment it happens. It can often take years — if at all — because we’re afraid that change will result in lost friendships and even family members.
So what is a person to do, then? Do we keep that mask on, making sure we avoid revealing everything that could offend or otherwise hurt someone? Or do we say to ourselves, “This part of me is important. It’s a passion of mine I want to share”?
That’s not to say we should reveal everything. Some things are definitely meant to stay private. I’m sure you don’t want to know my every, shall we say, appetite. I’m certain I don’t want to know all of yours.
Like everything, it’s a matter of balance.
This entire entry is my bloviating way of saying that whenever we reveal something new about ourselves, we risk angering or alienating people. We should always be prepared for that, as terrible as it is. We should also keep in mind that when someone reveals something new about themselves that changes our perception of them, they didn’t change. Only our perception of them did, and that’s not entirely their fault. We, too, are responsible for that perception, and we shouldn’t be angry or hateful to them because of it.
Just as we want to be loved, ugly and frightening* as we are under our mask, we, too, must always be loving to those who also show their honest, true, ugly and frightening* countenance to us.
Because it always takes courage to remove that mask.
* As an aside, we are not all ugly or frightening inside or outside. We are all beautiful and lovable, even when we have ugly thoughts or do ugly things. I use those words only because that’s how we too often see our darkest and deepest parts of who we are — whether it’s true or not.