I had a conversation this week about the shock we all have now and then when someone tells us how they perceive us… and their perception has nothing to do with how we perceive ourselves.
I think this happens to all of us now and then, and I find that I fret about this more than is probably healthy. I desperately want my intentions to be clear. Simultaneously, I don’t want to be perceived as an over-explainer. This particular example is but one of the many ways in which I care far too much about what other people think of me.
A few months back, while I was in the throes of the World’s Most Absurd Freelance Situation, someone made a throwaway comment that I have a hard time making decisions. I found it hilarious (and slightly insulting) at the time, but I’ve also found myself thinking about it a lot since then. I think of myself as a very decisive person in most ways, though there are certainly examples that buck the trend: it took a year of living here before I finally, finally picked out a new moisturizer for my skin, which had been screaming for a new product for months. We’ve had the same jacked up coffee table for over seven years, and I’ve been putting off picking a new one for probably five of those years. We are trying to plan our First Ever Real Vacation (requirements: getting there necessitates a plane, nothing involving an obligatory or family-fueled event, minimum of five days away), and I’m totally paralyzed.
My own perception of this is that I have a hard time making decisions when they are “luxury decisions,” but I am very decisive most of the time. At work, when faced with twenty decisions, I have no problem at all. I can also go with the flow and defer to someone else’s preference, and I wonder if that’s what inspired the comment above. On the other side of the coin, there are people who have let me know that they find me bossy because I make decisions so quickly, so there’s really no winning here. I also suspect that there’s no real way to know how we’re perceived outside of ourselves. It must be kind of like how one’s voice sounds so different inside one’s own head, and the total shock of hearing your own voice recorded and played back to you.
Have you ever discovered a weird way in which you were perceived by someone else? Did it rock the boat for you, or were you able to just brush it off and move on with your life?