The Phenomenon of Perception
It’s impossible to decipher how other people view your image. It’s a hypothesis, an educated guess. Projected images can sometimes be misunderstood, viewed as negative, self-serving transparencies. In my experience a large segment of the population attempts to portray a false image of someone they are not, but someone they would like to emulate. Without a solid relationship with someone, it can be difficult to decide if their image is real or delusional. I have been conscious of self image since my youth. My life has provided me with many challenges and opportunities that have resulted in the evolution of my image that has transitioned from a rebellious teenager to a 55-year-old displaced worker going back to college.
My earliest recollection of self image would take me back to elementary school and the problem of what to wear to class the first day. Would I fit in or be ridiculed for my shirt, pants or shoes? This was an early lesson watching people judged by their clothes and physical appearance. The phenomenon of image changed dramatically when I reached high school. I believe high school is a micro society in itself with personal appearance high on the list of things that are coveted. I wanted to fit in but didn’t want to compromise my individuality regarding dress, hair style and choice of peer group. During my high school years my image was ever-changing. I excelled in sports and was viewed as an athlete. On the other hand, my long hair gave me the image of a free spirit. I enjoyed hanging out with the athletes but also found myself drawn to another element; people who smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol and used drugs. I looked at these individuals as taboo, but glamorous at the same time. I was drawn to the pseudo dark side.
When I began dating, I realized how important my image was. Though shy around girls, I caught on quickly. I tried to project an image of self confidence and assuredness that I would become successful someday. I decided to cut my long hair and start shaving daily. I worked part-time in high school and saved enough money to buy a car. It was a foreign sports car – a bright red convertible. I was sure it was perfect for my new image. There was one small problem. I was viewed as a hippie and a jock – an odd combination, but image-wise, I seemed to make it work. I tend to look at the similarities in people rather than the differences. I was drawn to both groups and had their acceptance.
Throughout high school my outward image was ever-changing. I wore my hair long, ponytail or dreadlocks. I wore my hair short, sometimes shaved or Mohawk style. I...