Perception is the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. It can also be a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something, in addition to a mental impression.
I wasn’t close to my mother or stepdad due to the fact that I felt that they allowed their perception of me to become their truth in our relationship. Needless to say, their perception of me wasn’t the best. This led to them judging everything that came out of my mouth harshly. That (among other things) helped to perpetuate a volatile relationship. As I was growing up, all we did was argue. I’d go days without speaking to them because I simply had nothing to say. They lived in their own toxic world and I kept to myself.
My stepfather used to say “Whatever goes on in this house, stays in this house.” Therefore I didn’t speak of what went on there to anyone besides my best friend and I made her sweat to secrecy. So as a young girl, I learned to build the walls that I have today. I felt that was the safest thing to do. I didn’t want to betray my mother and stepfather regardless of how bad things were. I was (and still am)a fiercely loyal person. As a result, I kept a huge guard up. I didn’t (and do not) trust easily and I was (and still am) a very private person.
I don’t speak of my feelings. If I do decide to trust someone and they betray me, it’s rare that I forgive. I know as people we are supposed to forgive. I’m trying to work on it.
With these walls built, lack of trust and my ability to shield anything wrong in my life, the negative perception of me flourishes. My defense mechanisms are seen as undesirable traits that push people away and give them the wrong idea about who I am. I don’t care as much as I should because you can’t please everyone. And I have great people in my circle that have a different perception of me, so I can’t be that bad right?
The mix of people’s perception of me and being a black woman with resting bitch face is part of the recipe for being called an “angry black woman.” I believe that phrase is a way to avoid identifying what the problem truly is. Instead, it’s just calling someone a meaningless name. Instead of labeling each other, we should get to know people. We are not required to like everyone. Just accept who they are and move on.
I can be perfectly fine one day and everyone is asking me what’s wrong. When something truly is wrong, no one notices. I do take some responsibility for the perception people have of me. Our past relationships and experiences help shape us. We learn, grow and adapt as we go through this journey of life. That’s why we shouldn’t judge anyone.
“I put on my makeup, put a smile on my face…and if anyone asks me, everything is ok…I’m laughing because no one knows the joke is on me…because I’m dying inside with my pride and a smile on my face…”
The above excerpt is from a song by Tamia that I identified with years ago. My confidence was not what it is today and I felt that it would show. My walls that I built protected me. My smile is my best shield.
Becoming a mother has taught me to be a little more vulnerable. To forgive a little. To be a strong, confident role model for my daughter. To focus on truly being happy in life and not lowering my standards for others. To be a little more compassionate and understanding. Perception isn’t everything. It’s just a start.