Perception is in the eye of the beholder
January 19, 2009 12:43 AM Subscribe
How can you make sure that the way you view yourself is not too far removed from how you're perceived by others?
posted by lgandme0717 to Human Relations (20 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Once in awhile I come to the realization that a friend or family member has an opinion of him- or herself in a way that is completely opposite the way that I (or sometimes others) perceive them. Recently I have experienced that same jarring dissonance in one or two ways, and want to find ways to make sure I'm not deluding myself about my own lifestyle.
One example: An old friend is in his early 40s and has a low-paying government contracting job. He lives with his parents to save money, and as far as I know does not pay rent or contribute to household expenses. He has, in total, perhaps a couple of thousands of dollars in savings to his name. He has no traditional kinds of investments or savings (CDs, an IRA, 401(k), bonds, etc.) Instead, he has put any extra money that he has into a microloan lending site. If he gets a loan paid off, he lends the funds right back out again. Sometimes he has lost money this way. Anyway, he likes to call himself an "angel investor". Whenever I hear him say that I just have to roll my eyes. I see that he likes the cachet of this label, but he's not even living life as a financially independent adult.
A more personal example: As the mom of a young child I like to think that I can provide helpful advice to new moms (when asked!). I find myself weighing in (I'm talking about in real life with acquaintances and friends, not online on sites like AskMeFi) on topics like whether or not children should have TVs in their room to how to deal with a tantrumming toddler at the supermarket. But then I worry that instead of sounding like a wise been-there-done-that resource, I come across as a judgmental know-it-all.
I know it's not really possible to truly know how you present yourself to the rest of the world, and that if I'm talking to two people at once, they might easily each come away with totally different impressions of me, depending on their own experiences or prejudices. But is there some way of thinking about this that can help me give myself a reality check about my own perceptions of myself vs. how I present myself to the world?
Thank you all in advance for your thoughtful responses.