Many things come and go through life - friends, jobs, deaths, significant others. But there is one circumstance that never goes away - everyone's perception of us. Our entire lives we hear the recurring, common message "don't care what other people think about you." Simply put, that's easier said than done.
Some individuals will attempt to take the flimsy message to heart. We see people pursue the slogan in various ways - pompous athletes, blue haired punk rockers, your caped D&D players and class clowns. But few - very very few - manage to truly live out the idealistic message. However, all the defiance of authority or lack of normality fails to stop these people from becoming transparent; they still wear their hearts on their sleeves. And hanging from their sleeves is a billboard sized sign reading, "I haven't convinced myself; I do care what other people think of me."
The majority of us will go through life worried about how we convey ourselves and our overall demeanor, because we want everyone to adore everything about us...but that's completely unrealistic. The best you can hope for is narrowing that number of people whose opinion matters down to those who matter to you and you sincerely care about. For those you can't downsize that amount of people, life must be a living hell.
The struggle with keeping that list of people short is that we meet new people. The individuals who come and go through life will vary from a faceless coworker to someone who profoundly means something to you. And when it comes down to other's perception of us, there are two types of people.
Some people hold the past and what they hear about individuals against far too many people they meet. These people are shallow, show a lack of character and perhaps on some level hate themselves. They hold grudges, gossip and never take the time to legitimately get to know a person. They do this to protect themselves and make themselves feel better. Why? Maybe because no one has taken the time to see them for who they are - or at least who they want to be. Not all of these individuals are necessarily jealous of those they improperly prosecute but still show an inability to be genuine and admirable. Thankfully, there are better people out there.
Some people can see others for who they are at face value as well as on a deeper level. They use their human intuition, life experiences and faith in the belief there are good people out there - like them - to try to get to know a person before making harsh opinions. There are some issues in the past that must be known and certain individuals will never be able to live down - murder, assault, rape. But outside of those serious situations, how long can one hold petty circumstances and past choices against someone? The people who don't hold these trivial affairs against others are better than most, because whatever everyone else may judge an individual for, or whatever someone thinks others will judge them for - these people do not. They aren't afraid to ask questions and seek honesty even if it's not there in the end. Instead of making a blanketing judgment, they look deeper and realize there is more to a person than what can be easily assumed. For example, let's say I know a man named Gus. Gus is ALWAYS overbearingly positive...ALL THE TIME. I could assume this is because Gus is a crazy freak with no sense of reality. However, I don't. I bothered to take the time to talk to him and learn that Gus was diagnosed with a terminal illness when he was a kid and was given a 3% chance to live. Yet, here he is today. I'll admit that's an extreme hypothetical, but the instance provides reasoning for why you should think twice before reaching an eclipsing opinion about someone you've never truly tried to understand.
Everyone is aware taking the time to get to know someone and looking past everyone's masking judgement is the right thing to do, but far too many people are too lazy - or too selfish - to do the right thing. We are all guilty of this and should reconsider assuming someone is "a stubborn bitch" from what your friends have said and actually talk to that person. Sure, that person could still be an asshole, but at least you are a better human for attempting understand them - a habit that's important to build. There's also a good chance that person will appreciate your veracity.
We all have a natural longing for something - something beautiful we never can obtain. It's not a tangible object that comes and goes, but rather something that stares you in the face - genuine perception. What price would you pay to be appreciated and seen for exactly who you are? What value can you put on someone's ability to or sincerity to take the time to understand you as a person? The most unsettling fact is we may never know if that is truly possible.