Perception and assumption. We all attribute (often false) traits regarding the people and situations surrounding us. In turn, we all- either intentionally or completely unknowingly- project ourselves in ways that help shape these “insights.” In honor of everyone who has every judged or compared themselves to a peer, I share this story of assumption and perception gone sideways. I deliver you a few of my truths.
“Jessica, you always make the rest of us look bad. You are always so put together.”
These words were spoken to me by a client the other night, at an after-hours work function among a group of professionals who are my customers & potential ones.
Because of our venue, and even though I was gob-smacked by the observation, I couldn’t dump a bucket of harsh reality on the woman making this statement. That would mean calling a bluff on the “Work Jess” cloak I’ve taken years to meticulously stitch together. It would mean bearing the naked ME to too many people.
So, while it was flattering to hear I was being perceived in this fashion, my heart was begging to confide in her these truths:
“Friend, my hair is in a bun because I haven’t washed it in five days. Would you like me to detail the pros and cons of virtually every dry shampoo on the market? I can extol the virtues of dry shampoo for hours.
And this dress? Between us, it’s probably on it’s seventh wear since the last time you saw me in it. Don’t get too close.
I have it together?!?
You should have seen me this morning as I was racing through the airport. I almost missed this meeting because my little girl wanted to cuddle in bed. Which I did, but she still threw a tantrum to end all tantrums because she didn’t want Mommy to get on an airplane. Again.
If you saw my house, your assumption would be shattered.
Secret: I’ve been traveling for weeks on end. I’ve been sleeping on just a mattress pad (no time to put on sheets!); there are numerous bags of folded laundry all around my house that haven’t been put away.
There are stacks of laundry because I’m almost thirty six and guess what? For the first time in my life, I don’t have a washer and dryer. It’s hell. I do mass laundry once a month at the laundromat- a place I had never visited until this year. But a place I’ve come to respect for its efficiency.
Oh. And while we are baring everything ugly here, let’s not forget to mention my car.
Which I won’t let but the most select of friends enter. It’s a horror. Seriously: imagine funky stench and kid gross. My carpet and alfredo sauce decided to engage in an “eternal” relationship six months ago. One I don’t approve of, but can do nothing about now. Add to that discarded juice boxes, abandoned socks, toy wrappers, crumbs of every kind. .
Girlfriend- my car evokes the stuff of nightmares for anyone who actually has their act together.
My life? HA! I’m mid-thirties with no furniture to my name. I left my husband a year ago. And I left every material belonging I couldn’t fit into my car while doing so. For the right reasons, don’t get me wrong. I’ll acquiesce to this monumental step being me “HAVING IT TOGETHER.” But ‘it’ makes for a laughable excuse at ‘adulting’ well.”
Assumptions & Perceptions: We all make them. And people will calibrate their own about you.
I’m personally flattered that someone thought I was the most “put together” in the aforementioned scenario.
But, as I’ve demonstrated, behind the (quickly applied) make-up, sophisticated (dirty) dress, coiffed (even dirtier) hair and happy go lucky smile? There lives a hot mess of a Mom who is just trying to make it Day to Day. A mamma who sometimes masquerades in the pretty cloak she has cultivated- so that she can financially and emotionally be there for her little girl.
And so, dear reader, I hope if you ever begin comparing yourself to someone you imagine “has it together,” you reflect upon these truths I’ve shared. Because we all know the saying about “ASSUME.”