We all have blind spots in life. Sometimes we need someone else’s perspective to see things that are blind to us. It’s true—perspective is a key element of life that we often overlook, but it’s incredibly important. What we say to people, how we present ourselves—whether intentional or not—is the only picture they get of us. No one can see all that is hidden within you or what you experience in your daily life. Your presentation of yourself becomes someone’s full perspective of you. In other words, you paint a picture of what you want people to see, and they view it.
We perceive ourselves more fully, whereas others come to conclusions on who we are based solely on the snippets they glean of us in any given moment.
Think about this classic, shining example: Someone comes into a store and begins unjustifiably yelling at the salesclerk. They are immediately noted as someone who is “mean” or “unfriendly.” Their actions are the only glimpse we get into who they are, so we immediately perceive them as “ugly” or even a “bad” person based on this isolated incident. But perhaps they just found out their mother passed away. They could be living through the worst day of their life, and the only part of themselves they showed was this rageful being. This is not who they are; it’s but a small part of who they can be under difficult circumstances. And it’s true. We perceive ourselves more fully, whereas others come to conclusions on who we are based solely on the snippets they glean of us in any given moment.
Here’s a prime example of this that rocked my world. When I was in Exploration 27, I periodically gave my trainers bits and pieces of who I am when asked questions, or when a specific topic arose. Despite being a strong storyteller on paper, I am not the best at communicating orally, so unless prompted, I can unintentionally leave out a lot of information.
When answering questions about myself, I chose to focus on the positives.
Only I know that I work three regular jobs on top of my independent work as both a writer and a filmmaker. Only I know that I begin work at 8 a.m. most days and typically finish between 9 p.m. and midnight. Only I know that, while I do travel the world and live the life of my dreams, it’s only possible because of my hard work and dedication. When answering questions about myself, I chose to focus on the positives. I talked about traveling the world as a writer and getting to attend press trips. I talked about volunteering on archaeological and scientific expeditions. I talked about the joy of getting to visit strange locations around the world for my travel show, “Weird World Adventures.” I painted this wild and free picture without realizing I had inadvertently left out all the foundational structure—the slaving away at my computer, and the longer-than-normal workdays that pave the way for all the good things I want. It wasn’t intentional; I just naturally like to talk about what makes me happy, not all the hard work I put in to achieve it.
… but it made me realize that how I chose to represent my life did make it appear carefree, as though I’m just jumping from whim to whim.
Because of this, one morning I was speaking with one of my trainers and she said to me, “I am so envious that you can just freely live your life doing whatever you want to do when you want to do it.” It was a kind, touching statement … but it made me realize that how I chose to represent my life did make it appear carefree, as though I’m just jumping from whim to whim. I do live the life I want. I always make sure that I can, but it comes with hard work, dedication, and a lot of behind-the-scenes magic to pull it off. I just hadn’t thought to mention the effort involved, so I came across as a different person because of the words and stories I chose to share with her about myself.
In the end, people see what we allow them to see. I challenge you to meditate on this for yourself. Really consider what you show people. How do you present yourself to others through your daily actions?
She didn’t know that I work three jobs to make everything happen so I can live this way, but all the same, that fourth life that I do present outwardly is incredible and enviable. But it’s only one side—the side I let people see. The fact that I can live the way I want because I’m working so hard for it is something to be proud of, not something to hide—whether intentional or not. I thought on this for the rest of my retreat. In the end, people see what we allow them to see. I challenge you to meditate on this for yourself. Really consider what you show people. How do you present yourself to others through your daily actions?
Perspective is key. People do not get our whole picture unless we paint it for them.
It taught me a great lesson. Perspective is key. People do not get our whole picture unless we paint it for them. So, what we say to them, how we act around them, and how we present ourselves to them not only tells them who we are, it’s all they get. I know this seems like a basic concept, but until I really saw it at play, I never fully grasped it.