Perception is everything isn’t it? Like, depending on whom you talk to, the War of 1812 was either WON by the Canadians or left undecided by the Americans. Same events, different perception.
While I was getting tattooed last week, Kelly and I were talking about how tattoos are generally perceived by the majority of the population. Although it has definitely become more “mainstream” or acceptable to be tattooed, there does seem to be a persistent perception of those of us with more than the average. Kelly admitted that she has faced discrimination because of her ink. I know I have as well, which is why I've been careful in the past about who sees my tattoos. I’ve been letting it slip lately, going places in short sleeve shirts and capri shorts that I wouldn’t normally. I realize that folks are judging me. I find that I don’t care as much any more. Maybe it’s a false security in my career, maybe it’s this darn rebellious streak I’ve been on lately. Maybe it’s because it’s a powerful thing when you can shock people who have formed an impression of you…and I enjoy shocking people, always have.
We often form perceptions based on misinformation. Like, the other day I was watching a home video that my parents had made of a family trip to Florida. I was about 13, very innocent, pre-goth (just) and looking rather happy. My perception of myself at that time in my life wasn’t great. I was on the cusp of entering a teenage angst so profound that it would eventually lead me to many, many bad influences and choices. It would eventually lead me to tattoos as well.
When I watched that video I had a moment where I thought it would have been nice to know what I know now. That maybe I would have been able to alter my perception of myself and avoid a lot of hard lessons and heartache.
And then I remembered, I kinda like the perception I have of myself right now. I like the person I’ve become. I like that going through all that shit made me strong, defiant, and opinionated. Other people may not like it, but I do and I certainly surround myself with folks who can appreciate those aspects of me as well. Someone else might perceive the choices I’ve made as being mistakes that I’ll regret. But that’s the thing about perception, it’s limited to what information you have at any given moment, false, based on stereotype, whatever, and it’s only as strong as you let it be.