Saturday, August 21, 2010

Perceptions

The past year has led me to reconnect with several people from my past. Old friends from high school, more than a couple old boyfriends. (Love it or hate it, Facebook is certainly far-reaching.) I was thrilled to find many of these "friends". Some of them I hesitated about, not knowing if (or what) they remembered of me. I let friend requests sit while I mulled over what had been. I thought less about who they had been than who I had been. I remembered my high school self as: rather naive (though far from chaste), pretty self-centered, searching for something I wouldn't find until years later, not feeling like I really fit in, having lots of friends, uncertain of who I really was. (In other words, a typical teenager.) I hung out with the "good kids", I was a good kid. I was also pretty sexually active. I had some degree of sex with most of my boyfriends, as well as some "friends with benefits". I was naive enough to think that no one knew and that most of my friends were virgins. I guess I didn't want to be remembered as "that girl". I think that being faced with those past connections I identified with that teen-age girl, who worried about what people thought of her. Now I am not sure what I was worried about.

What has astounded me is the perceptions those old boyfriends have had of me for all of these years. As I have chatted, e-mailed and spoken to them in the course of catching up, I have found the person they remembered is not the person I remembered. Their memories of me are not of the promiscuous, shallow, awkward girl I remember. They remember me fondly, glowingly. Some of the adjectives they have used are: caring, compassionate, pretty, soft-hearted and sensual. One of them told me that he compared every sexual partner he has had to me. Another said he thought of me often and has very fond memories. My first love (and the boy I lost my virginity to), said I will always be a significant person in his life and he will always love me. All of their remarks have floored me. I was never drop dead gorgeous, I never had a perfect body, I never considered myself sexy or even memorable. None of these guys told me this as a come on, none of them were trying to "hook-up" again. I thought a couple of them might harbor some resentment, since I had broken up with them for no other reason than teenage fickleness.

It made me think about our perceptions and memories. My own guilt and insecurities influenced my recollections of 35+ years ago. They also didn't allow me to understand who I was or the depth of my relationships at the time. I tend to judge myself harshly (part of that perfectionist thing). There are things I am very confident about, my intellect, my job performance, my cooking skills. I don't think I am insecure about things, I just don't think about them. Things like my attractiveness and desirability. I don't view myself that way, I wouldn't describe myself that way. I see lots of women that are prettier and sexier than I am. In terms of looks and abilities I think I am average, certainly better at some things and lacking in others. I do take pride in my job. It is challenging, it doesn't make me special, but a lot of people would not do it.

I think there are many things which still color my perception of how others view me. I think I need to be kinder in opinion of myself.

4 comments:

SapioSlut said...

Hey Alice - you have made a great discovery. That whole perception thing can be mind bender for us perfectionists. We critique ourselves harshly.

I remind myself of that rule about "loving my neighbour as myself". I think especially about the loving myself (or as you phrased it, being kind). My reasoning is if I don't love/be kind to myself I don't have that to give to others in the same way.

I know it is so valuable to hear those opinions of people who knew you way back when and how much they liked you then, and in some cases still do. Yay you! So yeah, be kind to yourself. :)

Alice said...

Thank you Iona, I am learning. Actually, my whole perception of myself is changing, because I have been evolving. I love that I am still learning, growing and discovering who I am.

Louise said...

There's no coincidence about these last two posts, I guess. *smiles*

By accepting imperfection (or rather, I would say, salute imperfection, as it is that was makes us essential human) your perceptions will change also, and not only do you need to be *kinder* in opinion about yourself, but *kind*; loving, accepting and kind.

(much love your way)

Greenwoman said...

*smiles* Just getting round to comment...and I wanted you to know that I really appreciated your thoughts on perceptions. You've really touched an important understanding. Good for you!