I’ve never had the chance to know what people’s first impressions of myself were, up until a few months ago. I was told that people thought I was quiet and innocent. This changed to people thinking that I was weird, or different, or shy. If you ask different people, they’d all give you different answers: some good, some bad.
We’re told time and again, not to worry about what people think of us, but don’t you think that we change ourselves to fit the way we want to be perceived?
I’m 16 years old. Over the years, many versions of me have existed, different personas for different people.
There was the quiet bookworm for my classmates, the studious girl with the messy scrawl for teachers. The girl who couldn’t run very fast, but still played with a smile on her face for her building friends. The girl who wouldn’t shut up about the latest book she read for those who were close enough to know her, to really know her.
Everyone saw different things when they looked at me. As Gestaltism states:
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
It was only this year that I decided to shed these different skins and let the Sun burn me, the real me. Now everyone sees the same person, or at least I try to let them.
Now they see me: the girl who reads books under the covers and still won’t shut up. The girl who doesn’t run very fast but destroys her classmates in basketball (quite literally, sorry to those I’ve injured). There’s the girl who never really knows what’s going on but scores enough for her to be seen. The girl who writes and writes because it’s all she knows how to do. The girl who sits on her bed, typing this, refuses to remove her jacket because some part of her still feels the need to hide.
Everyone has different personalities for different people, there’s nothing new in that. Perception depends from person to person, and beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Everyone adjusts themselves to the way we want to be seen, whether studious or funny or loud, and any crack in that carefully sculptured armour makes us feel weak. If you’re funny, you better always be funny. If you’re studious, never be seen at a party. It’s an image, and only you know what lies beneath the surface.
I want to ask you something. How many of you feel stretched thin, trying to be a million different people at once? How many of you only show your true self in the bathroom mirror, hidden under costumes you put on to perform the show of your life? How many people really know you and what goes through your head all the time? If I’m guessing right, very few. Maybe not even yourself.
It takes time, and effort, to let go of all those other people in your head, those you watch as if from a distance, living your life but not as you might have lived it. Maybe it’s time to let yourself breathe, and instead of adjusting who you are to be perceived the way you want to be, adjust your own perception of yourself first.
When people look at me, I want them to see someone enjoying what they do. I want them to see a person who drinks too much coffee and reads too many books and loves psychology and Marvel movies and just sitting in silence with her friends. This is the way I want to be perceived, and in doing so, I don’t have to shape myself in any way. This is me, unfiltered and unblemished.
Maybe it’s time for you to adjust your perception of yourself, and see that your perception on life changes with it. Because perception based on feelings and emotions is subjective. What’s the point in playing a game with different versions of yourself when you can beat the world as a team?