Perception is Reality

by W. JR (Guest Writer)

Perception is reality.  This has something I have been considering for the longest time now.  Perception might be your reality, but reality is not always your perception.

Perception is not simply one’s first impression or prejudice about someone they do not know.  Perception is how you dress, speak, act, walk, converse, vote, love, donate, drink, eat, exercise and work, among other things. Perception evolves over time. Perception is so much more intellectual and deep than a simple impression.

Everyone has that former acquaintance that seemed perfectly normal until a suspiciously placed ”faggot” or other words and phrases I refuse to repeat. Most tend to weed those people out of our lives, at least the logical ones do.

I always thought about what other’s perception of me was. It’s something I have considered and cared about for almost my entire life.

Throughout my childhood, I had a tendency to emulate and mimic those around me. Whether it was an effort to try my best and fit in, or because it was someone I wanted so very much to be like. It could be anything from friends and family to athletes, celebrities, and even characters in movies. I would remember watching movies at night, then for the next couple days I would do my best impression of that character in my own way. I was a method actor of sorts.

That was until I finally realized I needed to stop putting my efforts on emulation, and rather on being “Just Jack”.

Shout out to Christie, who introduced some good W&G back in my youth. (How else would I know who Bobby Cannavale was years before his emergence on ‘Vinyl’?)

I’ve since focused on being the best version of myself, which is a work in progress and always will be, especially after having to play catch up. But since starting this new development, I have not been so focused on my phrase of the day. I had wonderful years in my college town where I was with great friends and could just be myself. I realized by being myself, other’s perceptions of me became much more accurate. 

It really hit me when, in preparation for my leap into the corporate jungle, my uncle barraged me with copious amounts of advice, from interviews to how to send follow up emails. There were so much to absorb, some slipped through the cracks, but the one that carried the most weight was “Perception is reality, Jack, so arrive early, stay late, keep your head down and bust your ass.”

Which is exactly what I did. 

All day I was working, 7pm to 7pm. I felt like I was putting in so much work, but yet always left for the day unsatisfied. My mind would wander and I would get sidetracked so easily. I was putting in too much work, but didn’t see a result. 

Then, almost like he knew, my manager at the time was leaving, well after the normal office hours, and he saw me chugging away. 

“Burning the midnight oil. Must be quite the worker, I like that.”

“Perception is reality,” I emphatically replied. 

He looked at me and smiled, although he knew these were traits he wished all his employees had, he knew he couldn’t let me work my social life away. He appreciated a hard worker, but he wanted me to have to explore the world as well.  

“Jack, perception might be reality, but perception comes from the cage you were held captive in.”