Perception is powerful. Whether our perception is accurate or based on mere ignorance, sterotypes, faulty nurturing, etc, it is our reality. I am always amazed at its power in operation. In my quest to maintain honesty and transparancy, I would like to share my experience with perception today.
Today I attended my first weekly morning meeting of a women’s group to which I was invited. I was told by the individual who invited me that the women were very down to earth, ‘our’ age, and lots of fun. I am 40 years old and expected everyone to be between 40-45….give or take a few years. I walked into the room to a group of women who were 60 plus and white with the exception of one lady who was a person of color. Although I smiled and was polite, my insides were churning as I thought this is going to be interesting and not in a positive manner. I retired to idea of I will just get through this meeting and I will never return. It wasn’t JUST because I was only 1 of 2 people of color, but it was because I was JUST 1 of 2 people of color. Yeah, I have white friends and friends of all nationalities, but when you are in that situation where you are THE ONE, it is a little uncomfortable. Well, it was not 5 minutes after I was seated that I realized that my perception was WRONG! This was the most energetic, down to earth, and fun group of females whose company I have encountered in a very long time. The discussion was phenomenal! They were genuinely inviting, extremely fun, and very transparent! Again, I was WRONG!
So, what would have happened if I held on to my perception and not entertained an open mind and get to know them for them? This is key! Perceptions will always exist, whether good or bad. The problem lies in an attitude of unwillingness to be open: to learn that person for who they are, and not the perception that exists because of my experience, and/or media portrayal of people who look like them. This type of open mindset bridges the gap between perception and reality. There may be times when our perception is truth, and not merely our reality which is limited to experience and exposure, or lack there of.
Take the risk! Push through your perceptions, whether they be people, environments, religion, or politics! Give someone an opportunity for growth, sharing, and peace! We might just like what lies on the other side of the bridge!