Thursday, 22 May 2014

Unpacking People's Perspectives

"A philosopher once asked, "Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?"

Pointless, really..."Do the stars gaze back?" Now that's a question." 
Neil Gaiman (Stardust)

I love to imagine the sort of people statues like this one in Athens see on a daily basis.

Haven't done a quote of the week post in a long time so this is me getting back on that particular train after I stumbled across this gem, scrolling GoodReads between writing CV's the other day. 

Today's feature is another one of my favourite authors. Known for Stardust, Coraline, American Gods, Neverwhere, episodes of Doctor Who, among many other things. This is one of my favourite quotes because depending on how you read it or what you focus on, you could take it multiple different ways. Sometimes I take it to mean we should wonder, we should imagine. Today I took it as being aware of the perspectives of ourselves and others in the world.  

I'd don't have any piquant tale, nothing that deals with dark and cruel issues, from the world's and my own perspective I am a middle-class Caucasian Canadian female; in reality, I should have nothing to say in terms of bad perspectives, I have no right to say anything really. I'm one step down from the top of priviledge, which, if I had been male, would have been it.

Then again, I am writing this as me, authentic with my "curious way of viewing the world" as someone recently said to me. I couldn't tell you what is so curious about my perspective though, because it is my perspective. I can however recognize there are faults in my perspective, and at the least, that is a good start to always learning how to having a less judgemental one, whether the perspective is being turned on yourself, on others, or one which others turn on you.

I have two experiences which involve someone's perspective of me and how I took the words from my perspective. From your perspective you might feel they were completely deserved and I overeacted and that is your perspective and that's okay.

"You're too mousey. Fix it."

One of my managers said this to me a couple years ago. It hurt. Badly. It hit all the corners I knew were holding me back, all the corners which had always left me in shadows, forgotten, even by individuals I called friends. I know I am an Introvert (yeah, blog title a giveaway much?), I know I have a tendancy to be shy and it takes time before I'm comfortable with a person, especially when I am aware they are sonic-scanning my every move for some fault. Like not giving good eye-contact, apparently I visibly shake, rambling, mumbling and speaking in a breathy voice. I've been shot down all the time because of those first impressions that failed, even though I know, give me time to get comfortable, get me focused on something, so I forget I'm being stared at (like with piano performances or Irish dancing), and I'll be a fantastic at whatever you want me to be. Sadly, the business world doesn't have the time or patience to allow that and I live in fear because of that knowledge, when logically I know, they are just as human too.

After all, I look back on that experience now and I realize, she said it probably to help me. She was a blunt individual and working in the Wal-mart PhotoCentre as your main job is going to do that to anyone after a while anyway. Businesses don't have time or energy to be quiet and kind. She also might have just been having a bad day and I was a week into being new and wasn't "perfect" enough with a few of the processes. It happens.
What have employers said to you in your past that hurt? Why do you think they said it? How did you react? Have you let it go or is it still dragging you down? 

"Hahaha! Stupid elephant ears! You shouldn't wear it up."

Second day of high school, my hair in a French braid. I wore a pink collared shirt, practical beige shorts and Teva sandals. I look back on it now, mortified that I didn't have a better backbone to not just wear what I thought my mom would want me to, or that I didn't have enought of a perspective to know what I truly wanted to wear. Either way, I was thirteen, impressionable and still very, very shy.

That didn't go very well with the boy in science class who sat next to me and made the comment when he saw my hair (and ears). I later pegged him as a trouble student who was always mouthy to teachers, got suspended a lot, somehow graduated and I haven't a clue what he's doing today. Either way, he was my bain of existence for the first few years of high school, after which he got bored when I would just mumble a response back or ignore his shoving and pushing.

I know now he probably said that stuff because he was trying to make himself feel better for who knows what reasons. He might have done it because he thought he was funny. Most of the guys in high school tended to say rude or mean things, flat out ignore me or would gang up to pull my hair at my locker (yay for curls, not). I still haven't cracked their perspectives and don't know what prompted those words or actions, but I moved on. I ignored it and stuck it all into a box in my mind.

However, I never, ever did wear my hair up again in high school or around high school people. (Nor have I spoken to many since graduating). It took until about two years ago that I finally was confident to wear it up in public. I let someone else's words dictate me into a state of fear.

Fear. That is all perspective come down to. It might be your self-perspective, which is actually by far the harshest because it takes your own voice and the things you've learned and experienced in the outside world. Then it becomes internalized, running a marathon of self-hatred 24/7.

It might be the perspective of others on you, which comes out of their own internalizations of self-perspective and of their present emotions, because humans are quite fantastic at just blurting things without thinking of the ramifications first.

It might be your perspective of others, which could be skewed because you are not that individual person. I'll never know why that manager said what she said or why she was the way she was, let alone whatever went on in the head of that hormone-raging trouble boy (and his friends). Even my friends of the time. Though they are a huge anomaly of confusion and misunderstandings that will probably wait for another day to explore.

It has however kept me aware that I am a very shy individual who finds it hard to be comfortable around people until some time and acquaintance passes. Get to that point and I'm an intuitive and intelligent conversationalist. However I'm also abnormally sensitive to words, invasions of space, and especially jabs on my ability to perform exceptionally at whatever task I am set.

For now, I invite you to think back on things people have said to you, or how they've acted around you.

How have those words or actions impacted you?

Think about what they may have taught you about yourself and your own perspectives. Grow from these experiences. However small, however serious. Grow. Don't stop. Open your leaves to the sun and learn lots.

Always observing.

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