All Articles Tagged "people’s perception"
When I was in elementary school in East St. Louis, I got in trouble trying to impress the “popular girls.” For Christmas I received a portable CD player and the expressed warning not to bring it to school. But wanting to be popular, I did anyway. I allowed this girl in the class to listen to it and because this dumb-dumb had the CD player on her desk, not covered by anything, the teacher saw it and confiscated it. After a series of unfortunate events, and another incident where I got in trouble for breaking school rules, the lies that I told to cover my butt came crumbling down on me.
From that moment on I vowed to give up lying all together. It was too much to carry on just one lie and instead I opted to tell the truth no matter what. It’s been years and I’ve still stuck to that commitment, and even though being completely truthful hasn’t been easy, I go to sleep every single night with a clean conscious that I’m not deceiving people and I don’t have the added stress of trying to remember what story I told who and what to keep straight.
Not only does keeping lies straight expel a lot of unnecessary energy, so does trying to correct people’s absolute perceptions of you.
My reputation is extremely important to me, so much so that I have this little inside joke with people of “My name good in these streets!” But no matter how truthful and upfront I’ve been with people there have been times that I met others who were illiterate personality-wise, because they were reading me all wrong.
Now there will be times when people see you in an unflattering light, or misconstrue your actions. The correct thing to do would be try to redeem yourself, or make the foggy situation into a clear one. But I’m talking about the times when even after you explain yourself, do a few back flips and a triple-double axel, the person is still going to hold onto their initial unflattering view of you. I like to call these views “their absolute truths.” In philosophy an absolute truth is a “fact” that is inflexible, fixed, and unwavering.
For me, the most frustrating false absolute truths about me come from my family. As I’ve noted before, growing up I had a stuttering problem. Now, stuttering is a speech impediment. I don’t know if it has affected other people mentally, I’m not about to research my own disorder, all right? But my brain was just fine. I caught on to things quickly and I retain a lot of information. However, certain cousins, aunts and uncles who knew me as a stuttering child will still treat me as if I have some type of learning disability.
“Okay Kendra. I’m going to put the milk on the shelf right here. You see it? This milk is for you. Don’t forget, okay?” “Why are you talking at me and not to me?” Sometimes I had to stop myself from saying: “Stop trying to explain rudimentary things to me. If you can understand it with your intelligence deficiency, know that I probably caught on to the concept twenty steps before you did!”
I would find myself in elementary school, middle school, high school and college filling my brain with whatever I could, from copying the dictionary, taking courses in Latin, French, Spanish and Italian (which really means nothing now because I can’t fluently speak any of these languages), taking speed reading courses, watching hours of documentaries, and reading any and all newspapers. I knew I was smart, but it wasn’t enough for me to know it, I had to prove to my family, the ones that when I’m trying to cross the street at 14 years old yelled at me to make sure that I looked both ways.
I would beat myself up internally if I even struggled with a concept, because to me it might prove that maybe they were right. Maybe I am slower than everyone else.
Those thoughts would be compounded if I was watching a game show with them and knew answers that they didn’t and then I was questioned on how I knew the answer. ”No, you’re lying. You had to have seen an earlier version of the show. We know that sometimes you lie. Remember when you were in elementary school and with the CD player?” With my family, you can’t live anything down.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college and in a late night gab session with my best friend and roommate Tammi, she asked me: “Sometimes you seem like you have to prove you’re smart. We all know it. Why do you do that?”
I realized that I was projecting the stupidity of my family and my own insecurity on my friendships. Outside of my family I was seen as highly intelligent from teachers, professors, associates and friends. Why was I letting the viewpoints of people who remember the little girl who took 30 seconds to ask a single question phase me as an adult?
I learned that no matter what other people think of me, I had to be comfortable in who I am. Knowing my own strengths and owning them. I’m saying all of that to say this, there are times in your life that no matter how you portray yourself to be, there’s going to be someone who’s going to come up with a viewpoint of you that’s not accurate and they’re not going to change it. When that time comes, you have two choices. You can try to do whatever you can to change their opinion, or you can become comfortable in who you are and be satisfied in knowing the truth for yourself.
From personal experience, choose the latter, you’ll be glad that you did. Even though I like to keep my name good in these streets, it’s even better that it’s good in my own mind.
Kendra Koger’s name is good in these streets, and on twitter @kkoger. No lie!
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