Do you know what I have learned over the past few years? The perspective we hold of ourselves is not quite what the world sees. When I was in college I spent time lying in bed philosophizing about life and one of my favorite philosophies was “applebomin.” Now, what you might ask is applebomin? Don’t take out your dictionary. It won’t be in there. Don’t bring me William Safire. He won’t be able to help decipher it. It is my word; a word I made up in a college dorm that is the basis for my theory on perspective. I was lying in my bed when I recognized that the colors that I see when I look at the world may not be the colors that you see. Granted we both identify the same color as red but the name might be different than the perception and since we are bound by the limits of our language and today by the inability to see through someone else’s eyes I have no idea whether the colors that you are seeing are the same as the ones I am seeing. The word applebomin I made up as the catch phrase for this theory, little did I know scientists were discussing this idea for ages.
So when we speak of perception and perspective little do we know about how others think of us. I remember making a cake and saying to myself, “I wish my friend Sara was here to help me she was so good at making cakes.” A few weeks later I ran into her and said, “ooh I was thinking of you the other day when I was decorating the cake wishing you were there to help me with it you were always so good at that.” Her response was shocking “Esther you were always the good one at making cakes I wanted to be like you” I took a step back in surprise, we both perceived the other as the better.
We don’t know how people perceive us. We might be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised but it is an interesting experiment. I called my friends and asked them what do you think of me, When you think Esther Azar what words come to mind. I got some interesting responses things I didn’t know about myself, the things I strive to be I already am. Self assured, confident, strong, smart. How interesting I am the only one that thinks I am insecure am I putting on a show for the rest of the world or is the show who I really am. Maybe I need to let go of my insecurities and embrace myself as I am seen through the world. .
This is an opportunity to recognize who we are through a mirror. Seeing our strengths and weaknesses so that we can build ourselves to the person we already are. Perception of ourselves is like the color red we may see it differently than our neighbor.
Do most people want to be authentic or do we prefer pretending to be perfect, happy and easygoing? If the accepted behavior is one of cheerfulness and security, should we break out of that mold and be truthful and honest? Should we pretend, regardless of the truth that lies underneath it all? The closest I have come to being authentic is in writing this blog and let me tell you it is full of difficulties. The insecurities that arise and the fear that shows up could keep anyone sane from posting (lucky you I am not sane). Yes, I am getting positive feedback. The readers are enjoying the honesty but it is “my” honesty, “my” stories, “my” vulnerabilities and “my” insecurities. I am putting myself out there for all to see and that is scary but what I have noticed is that the stories I tell might be different but all of us share the same feelings. We all share the same insecurities and fears. The only difference are the tales we tell about those things. As soon as we can recognize that we are more alike than different the sooner we will be able to enjoy the world and the people in it. We have an opportunity to embrace each other in all of our vulnerabilities and fears because we are all the same and we all want the same things. No matter how tough, shy, conceited or confident we appear to others. We all want to be loved, to be accepted and to be told that we are ok just the way we are. Once I was able to see this I was able to notice more love in the world. The perceived threats I feel from the outside come from the same feelings I feel on the inside. When a friend lashes out at me, it is an opportunity for me to recognize that she feels threatened and rather than reject her for it with my own hurt ego I can embrace her and love her because I know how it feels. Because I am her and she is me and the only difference is in the stories we tell.
Rabbi Esther Azar