I sent a survey to my newsletter subscribers last week that included three questions about the content I send. And there was a bonus question at the end with pictures of different people. I asked them to vote on who I resembled most.
The people were 4 men and 2 women. The top votes went to one of the men. The second highest votes went to a woman.
I did this as an experiment in how people see us. It's pretty interesting how we have a self-perception but it can be in stark contrast to how others perceive us. And I'm not just talking about how we look, I'm talking about what character traits people assign to us, what roles we fill in their lives, and what needs we fulfill.
And most of this happens without our consent and often regardless of what we do, say or even prefer.
What do you think about that? Does it unnerve you a little to think you have little to no control over what people think of you and what they do with their opinions? Does it feel scary or freeing?
I sent out that survey because I noticed a trend and it was also an exercise in "exorcising" my ego. Over the past five years or so, people kept sending me pictures of people they thought I resembled. I would meet someone and they'd say, "you know who you look like?" and show me a picture of someone who I thought looked *nothing* at all like me. At first, I got really upset and annoyed because I have an ego and it goes really wild like a bucking bronco sometimes. I noticed it acted up most when I was really invested in how people saw me. This was worst during phases of my transition when I needed or wanted to pass as male. It still happens. Someone who knows I'm trans sent me a picture last month of someone who seems to be a lesbian and I got *PISSED*. I wondered why that person would do that. I wondered why I bothered spending thousands of hours and dollars and basically wiping my previous existence/identity off the planet just so someone could still see me the way I was perceived before my transition.
Why did I even bother?
And then I sat with that horrible feeling of being out of control. Hours of meditation helps me sit with feelings and thoughts in ways I couldn't years ago. I came to realize that my decision to transition my gender identity had everything to do with me and nothing to do with other people. I didn't do it for anyone but me. I didn't do it to educate the world. I did it to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I did underestimate the impact of that decision, however, because we don't exist in a vaccuum. More on that another time. But I saw that I would forever be tossed about in the waves of uncertainty and frustration and annoyance if I kept basing my value, worth or sense of self on other peoples' perspectives.
And just like that, I felt free. Instead of upset, I felt more curious about how other people saw me. I collected all the pictures of people other people thought I resembled. Then I sent out a survey to see what MORE people thought! I totally released expectation or attachment to what people think or how they see me because it is just a matter of perspective and it's none of my business to solve, fix or change.
If you're curious, these were the top two winners. Notice how they don't look anything alike as people but folks still voted them BOTH as my doppelgangers.
Gives you something to think about, huh? People see what they want to see based on who they are and what they need and want to see in who we are. And it usually says nothing real about who we actually are for ourselves or other people.
It says nothing real about what we look like.
It says nothing real about what we can accomplish.
It says nothing real about who we've been before.
It says nothing real about what we can provide.
It says nothing real about our purpose or potential.
It says nothing real about anything, really.
It's all subjective reality and it shifts and changes just like a mirage.
Other peoples' perspectives are theirs to have. Politicians. Parents. Friends. Partners. Fans. Followers. Strangers. All the people.
Who we are for ourselves, how we see ourselves and how we engage in relationships to see others fully is our business. It's work that requires so much time and energy and intention. I see how much time I've wasted worrying and not working.
Imagine what results you'll get in your life when you're doing this, too.