I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how easily it is to be misjudged. It’s something I’ve considered often in the past, mainly at a point in my life when I, myself, have been underestimated or presumed to be someone or something I’m not based solely on my appearance or limited interaction with another person.
It’s easy to look at someone and presuppose who they are based on superficial clues. But much like an iceberg only shows an estimated 10% of itself above the surface of the water in which it floats, people often allow others to glimpse only a small bit of who they really are. By judging them on this small percentage they choose to show you, you are likely concluding much about the other person with limited information.
I’m guilty of it, too. I’m not proud of it, but it’s easy (and, yes, even fun) to people watch and make snap decisions about who someone is 5 seconds or less. But it’s completely unfair. To me, and to them.
You see, I once lamented to a former employer that people didn’t actually see me. At least not the real me. They saw the me they wanted me to be. They saw a smiling, overweight blonde. Because I was (and am) overweight, they believe I must be lazy and/or lack willpower. My hair color lead them to believe I lack intelligence. And since I smile often, I must be a simpleton. While it could be argued that I am prone to laziness and susceptible to blonde moments, for the most part, these are untrue assumptions of who I am.
Recently I told a small group of people something about me they never knew, and nearly blew their minds. Simply because they had already labeled me and put me in this little box based on the tip of my iceberg I had chosen to share with them. This insight got my mind racing – those of you who know me best know how thoughts can swirl like a tornado in my head about the most inane things – and I started to create a mental list of things about myself that many people in my life probably don’t know.
Below is just a small portion of that mental list:
I am a widowed mother of three; I married my high school sweetheart and spent a total of 32 years together, almost 26 of those as man and wife.
I hold a BA in Psychology with a Forensics Focus, having graduated with a 4.0. This is an accomplishment that took 30 years to complete and therefore one I’m most proud of.
I once flew halfway across the country with my teenage daughters to audition for
Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance show simply because my then 16 y.o. told me “Mom, you’re hot” and my late husband agreed. One thing led to another and before I knew it, we had booked a girls weekend to Dallas where I bombed the audition but created a lifetime of memories (which, let’s face it, is much more important).
My blog about grief, the one you’re now reading, currently holds the #33 spot of The Top 50 Widow Blogs and Websites for Widows and Widowers. (I had previously been holding at #31, but my posts had been all but non-existent for 2018 (I only wrote 10 blog posts… not even one a month! I vow to do better this year and am off to a much better start), so dropping two spots isn’t so bad.)
We have lived in many different places, including Honolulu, HI, causing people to question whether we were in the military or witness protection program. I have always wanted to travel, and haven’t done nearly enough of it in my life, so I joke that we don’t vacation, we move. (I’m delighted to say, however, that I have done more traveling in the past year than I had been able to for many years previously and am learning to say “why not?” when opportunities arise to visit a place I’ve never been before. I found myself in Montana in early Fall from one such response, a trip of a lifetime with a dear friend and perfect travel companion.)
I am a responsible, hard worker in whatever capacity I’m in at the time. My first job with a paycheck was as a Produce Clerk, but I’ve done everything from Denny’s waitress to Executive Assistant to the CEO of a $300M company (a position created for me when I went to the interview for another job and the CEO saw something in me he felt would be beneficial to him and his company).
I can’t dance but love to sing in the shower (even though I’m not much better at singing than I am at dancing). I’m trying to learn to sing and dance with abandon, not caring who’s watching, simply for the joy of the dance and the song. If you see me “practice”, please be kind with your assessment of my abilities. They aren’t good.
I once represented the state of Hawaii (serendipitous given my later time spent there??) in our 3rd grade program honoring the bicentennial celebration. Not having access to Amazon back then where you could order anything, I resorted to wearing a halter top and fringed white cape as my grass skirt. I wish someone had a picture of that as I’m sure I looked ridiculous, even though I felt exotic and beautiful.
I love roller coasters and thrill rides (despite the fact that photos from such rides say
otherwise), but hate virtual reality or spinning ones.
I am blessed/cursed with contradictions and curves. You are just as likely to see me wearing high heels and carrying a glass of wine while browsing an art gallery as you are to see me barefoot, splashing in a puddle and face to the sky during a rain shower.
I’m awkward and uncoordinated. Almost without exception, you can find at least one bruise somewhere on my body where I’ve walked into a doorway or banged into a chair. Yet A used to call me a Bumble (the abominable snowman from Rudolph), saying “Bumbles bounce” because I’ve rarely had a serious injury.
I learned to read even before I started kindergarten at the age of 4 (I turned 5 a few months later). I credit Sesame Street and The Electric Company (where I first fell in love with the ever cool, ever smooth Morgan Freeman). I once came home completely hoarse when the teacher asked me to read to the class while she took care of something outside the classroom. My mother was not happy (but I had been secretly thrilled to have been given such responsibility).
As a child, I was a tomboy who caught bugs and frogs, and climbed trees, but who still liked to dress up in pretty, frilly things. Not much has changed, except I now catch the insects with my camera lens and my pretty things have more spandex and less frill.
I am riddled with insecurities yet people often tell me they see me as strong and confident (and strangely enough, intimidating). This is the piece of myself I struggle with the most. Maybe in this instance I am misjudging myself rather than the other way around. Am I perhaps too hard on myself? Probably. But I’m working on changing that. I’m not sure if it’s age or circumstances, but I’m getting better at recognizing my own assets as easily as I can acknowledge other people’s. Clearly I’m a work in progress.
So there you have it. Another small chunk of my iceberg is visible now. This is me. If you already knew most of what you read here, consider yourself loved and trusted, as only those closest to me see even this much of it. (Also consider yourselves somewhat unlucky, as my personal iceberg may have been the one to sink the Titanic – even my curves have jagged edges. Those darned contradictions again. *insert eye roll and face slap*)
I now challenge you all to take the time to learn more about those around you before you judge them… or rather, misjudge them. It’s likely there is more than meets the eye as to who they are. And we all deserve to be truly seen, don’t we?
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