Perception is reality! This is one of the truest statements I’ve been told and one I continue to share with those (who matter) in my life. It’s also one of the very few statements, where most people can actually agree on the meaning. That may not seem like a lot or a very big deal, but as most people know… ones’ perception is subjective & individualized. You can have 5 people listen to the same news story and they’ll give you 5 individual versions of what they just heard on that same news. They might be very similar or surprisingly different, but one thing for sure… there will almost always be some inconsistencies. We can never know exactly what people are gonna see or how they’ll process it? All we can do is give the most accurate representation of what it is we’re presenting to others.
This is a topic thats been in the air, a lot lately. Stemming from situations inside these fences AND outside these fences. And I’ve continued to stress the importance of perceptions and how the things we do can be perceived. Especially in prison, where others perceptions of us become our truths! It’ll never be as critical or as crucial as it can be in here. We’re quickly evaluated and judged, once we come to prison, especially every time we walk onto a new prison yard. And these quick judgments can dictate how we do our time. Whether we’re viewed as strong or weak… lion or lamb –OR–whether we have to struggle or be able to thrive in our environment?! And this is the thing, if that person is viewed as “less than” to any degree… then that’ll be the truth of who they are and it’ll stick with them through their time there. Don’t get me wrong, some perceptions can be changed, but it’s a task that takes on A LOT of work and A LOT consistent actions & behaviors. However, a positive perception can be lost, in a moments time, with just 1 simple indiscretion, action or lack thereof. And that’s an even tougher one to come back from… to try and redeem a newly-formed negative perception.
This is why I live by this statement and stress it, SO MUCH, to those in my circle. Because it’s not only the perceptions of my own actions, that dictate how I’m seen… no, it’s the perceptions of those around me that weigh on me as well. (sometimes even more!) I honestly can’t count the # of times, that someones come over and asked me “why are you fucking with… so and so??” Not because they’re a bad person or anything like that, but because of other activities they indulged in. See, I’ve mentioned before the extent of the substance abuse issues in here… and that’s generally frowned upon by the people in my inner-circle. (or is supposed to be!) And now most of the people I tend to draw to all function at opposite ends of the spectrum these days. There are just some of those people in my life, who I won’t turn my back on… who’ve been unable or unwilling to shake that from their life. It’s a struggle sometimes, cuz I can get very critical of them and pass my own judgments. And then I hear how others perceive them and it really bothers me, to hear that they’re looked at like that… especially when it links back to me. I work very hard to maintain myself to a certain standard, so that how I move and how I live is perceived for just what it is! And this has been my truth for a long time now… but I walk the walk & talk the talk. You can’t say one thing and do another… when I say I’ve cleaned up my life and don’t drink or get high anymore… I don’t! The same as when I say I’m holding myself to a certain standard… I do it! I do this for myself and everyone around me, to show them and lead by example… but the very 1st time I slip and contradict any of those things, it all becomes null & void and means absolutely nothing! And, by no means, does this mean that everyone sees these things the way I would hope they would… there are still countless people who view me as I was a decade or 2 decades ago. There are some people who can and will ONLY see the wrong I’ve done… this creates blinders to any good I could be doing or trying to do. Sometimes the track-records we’ve created, from our behavior make it hard for people to see any other truth. But all I can do is continue to walk the walk and hope that some people can see something new?!
Now, a lot of people in prison and in the streets will tell me the same thing… “who cares what anyone else thinks?!” And then I remind them that they should, cuz it affects the way people will deal with you… how they accept you and treat you! Of course, most people who say that, only say it cuz they don’t wanna be held responsible or be held in check about their actions. This is one reason people hold to the old “crabs in a barrel” adage… they never wanna see someone else do better or progress past where they are… cuz then they might look back down, through judgmental eyes. When they’re doing the same bs, who’s gonna hold who accountable for it?
In the streets, the way people perceive us might not be as crucial or detrimental… but nonetheless important to how we live our lives among everyone else. The problem with that… in prison or out there on the streets… you can portray whatever truth you want and it can still be seen as something else. It’s almost like being seen through the reflection of a carnival “Fun House” mirror… where the images are distorted differently, depending on what angle each viewer looks from. These distorted images become the reality as they see it. Now, these distortions to a persons perception don’t always come from the outside… from anything that person has done or is doing. Often they’re effected by that viewers own personal experiences, personal dealings, emotions, beliefs or any other internal factors that can distort their ability to accurately & honesty perceive what they’ve just seen or been told.
I’ve made mention in my previous post: “A Global Crisis…”, about the very contrasting versions of news stories… depending on whether or not you watch CNN or FOX news. This is a very good example on how you can be dished 2 distinctly different “truths” of any 1 news story. Of course the, COVID-19 Pandemic is on every channel right now… with several channels all trying to create different perceptions on what’s going on, who’s to blame, who’s stepped-up and most recently… trying to give unknown timelines, to an unprecedented situation. This is a scary situation, that’s only being worsened by a far-left & far-right news medias, that are both fighting for ratings out of a devastating Global Crisis!!
Sorta side-tracked and off topic, but it still played into what I’m talking about… perceptions that are being created. Anyways, like I said, this has been a topic that’s been on the top of the list lately. I’ve been trying to deal with some family issues and the perceptions being created in the streets, but this has been a hard task to try and deal with from in here. I do what I can to offer from my own experiences, to help them out there… but it goes back to one of those situations I wrote about earlier, where I get a “who cares what anyone else thinks?!”. Then trying to downplay the situation and the effect it’s already had. I can’t stress enough how it doesn’t (as much) matter what you do, when peoples perception is something different. This stems from years of behavior, that’ve gone to influence what everyone’s able to see and not see. But as I’ve said… this can be changed, but it’s gonna take A LOT of effort, A LOT of work and A LOT of consistency.
The big difference between prison and the streets, on this subject, is that people have a bit more of a luxury to not care… in the streets. That’s not even an option in prison… the perception that the yard has of you is what defines you, determines your place on the yard and within the hierarchy of prison subculture. On top of it all, it’s the sum of the whole of who you’re associating with. So now I have how people perceive me, as well as how those same people perceive the friends I surround myself with and vice versa! It’s a lot to really keep track of, but if you don’t… then you’ll surely find out very quickly!
So, let me repeat that very simple phrase, that started this whole thing off:
“Perception is reality!”
It’s crazy how something that sounds so simple , can be received in so many ways!