Perceptions are an awareness of elements in an environment (culture, home, society) through physical sensation and mental and intuitive comprehension.
As I was growing up, I perceived that if I went to school, got a job, and worked my way up, I would have a happy and successful life. I perceived that if I stood up to my managers and told them that they were not treating their employees like people but rather like robots, things would change and I would be thanked for my candor and insight. I perceived if I was honest and told people what I thought about life they would accept me with open arms.
I also perceived women were evil and dangerous because of Eve. I perceived Adam was neither a very bright nor a good person. I perceived I was unattractive, pretty, fat, goofy, smart, dumb, naïve, nice, mean, stiff, arrogant, happy and sad. But I also I perceived I was not good enough…. Perceptions, the biggest enemy of all, can lead us down the garden path of doubt, uncertainty, emptiness, hostility, longing and middle class mediocrity.
From where do we get these perceptions of who we are? Our parents? Our friends? Strangers walking down the street? Hollywood? The Media? Artists, musicians and singers? We get these perceptions from all of these and more. So how can we become comfortable with ourselves and find out who we are when society or the “world of unreality” already has a set script, a profile of who we are and a role for us to play and sends us daily messages to reinforce our participation?
You know these messages: “You are a woman therefore you are weaker, not as smart, definitely not analytical, an object that should be pretty and presentable at all times.” “Boys don’t cry.” “Be lady-like, nice, a team player, and a good little girl.” “Boys are tough and only play sports.” “Pink is your favorite color. And baby dolls are a girl’s best friend.” “Have long flowing hair to catch a young man’s attention.” “If I make a lot of money and have the right car, women will fall for me.” “Don’t argue. Don’t be ambitious. Don’t be daring.“ “You are a person of color and will always be second or third best.” “Men can’t show their true feelings.”
Is this script really who you are? Once you let go, and I mean REALLY let go, of your perceptions that are now your “unreality,” then you can think about what made you happy and wanted to be when you were a child? I wanted to be President of the United States of America. I loved standing up for other kids rights when I was child. If there was any injustice committed by a teacher, parent or another child I was there to put things right! So I thought, hey that’s what a President does, so that’s what I am going to do!
I looked up every President in the encyclopedia and read their biographies–how they got started, when they were born, and in what wars they fought. I even read their speeches and searched for what made them special so that I could prepare for my position as President of the United States of America. I was an invincible and fearless child of nine years. I was going to rule the world. I was going to change the world. Justice would rule because I was going to prove we are all special!
I was going to be President.
Then our “world of unreality” set in and I was told I wouldn’t and couldn’t be President. That wasn’t in my script. I am African American, a woman, wasn’t born into the right family, and was laughed at by my friends. I could only be like the African American images seen on television and heard of on the radio and in the news in the 70’s and 80’s. I was destined to be fourth best and unimportant. No one in my neighborhood did anything special. I perceived that I should be ordinary or “sub-ordinary” and go with the flow; go with the part that was written for me by others.
But nature – your natural instinct – your true self, if you let it loose and run free, is a much stronger force than this “world of unreality.” My inner voice constantly reminds me, “But this isn’t right, this isn’t fair – can we back up and take this from the top again? Because, you see Shirlyn, my instructions from the universe say your life is uncharted territory – an unwritten book. You are here to change people’s lives! You are here to be a leader. Ignore the script from the physical world, block out messages from outside yourself and keep listening for Me, your guidance and intuition, and I will take you to your brilliant destination. You will discover who You are.”
I did become President four times and counting: President of the Black Student Union in my high school, President of my university’s school of business newspaper, and President of two companies I started. Shirlyn is turning out to be a much more interesting person and has led a much more interesting life than that person the outside world ‘told’ me I would become.
If you are strong, if you are ready, if you are brave, if you are sure, and if you are steady, find out who you are and live outside this “world of unreality.” Mediocrity, being average, being “normal,” being just like your family and friends, being like Hollywood characters is not your road and for most not a reality. We each have our own unique road. And the brilliance inside will grow brighter as we travel that road. Strive for it. It’s there for all of us. But get ready for the fight of your lifetime. World War ME: the war between the world of unreality and the world of life. It will be a long, arduous fight to change those perceptions…but oh what an adventure!
Copyright © 2009 by Shirlyn Wright