Altitude

Truth - A change of perspective does the mind good from time to time. Being reminded that every person you come across experiences the world differently than you do, and likewise, you from them can be an important thing. It can be so easy to get caught up the chaotic monotony of our everyday lives and miss out on the opportunities to know other people, brand new experiences, and figure out ourselves if we do not shift our perspective every once in a while. Things are never what appear to be, and at the same time they are. It all just depends on your altitude.

"Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.”   Shannon L. Alder

How easy it is to forget that the ways that we ourselves are inherently different than how others perceive us. We think we're showing up in one way and that might be so, at least to us, but others may experience us differently. The tough thing is we have to acknowledge that both perceptions are uniquely valid, and yet fundamental in contradiction. How can this be? It's like a classic TV episode with the "whodunit" plot. All the characters are brought in to be questioned in  a nostalgic roaring 20's New York mobster style. They all recount the same events but all wildly different. Some of the facts remain steadfast but the details end up being comically different. Some of it is imagination mixed with hyperbole, and another part of it is really what people thought they saw, heard, or felt. At a certain level we are able to convince ourselves so deeply that things become real. Then is there any distinction between actuality and make believe. Alternate realities are part of what makes the human experience so fascinating.

Do you ever wonder what other people see when they bestow their gave upon you? Are they examining your face? Do they look into your eyes searching the depths of your soul? Did they get caught up with the blemish on your cheek? People see, hear, and feel the things we do and say so differently. Think about the all the things that must come up for them. Their socialization and understandings of who you are in relation to who they are, and the underlying messages/roles they embrace or deny, in addition to their past experiences, deeply held beliefs, etc. that all form how they take you. It's uncanny all the thoughts that go through our heads whenever someone interacts with us. How do take in their perspective but also make sure ours, along with our implied intent, remains in tact? How do we convey ourselves so that others take it as face value and don't get caught up in the semantics of who and how, but rather what, why, and when. It's only when we phase shift, make moves, and change things around that we gain a new altitude, and with it a new outlook.

Last week I had the great honor of babysitting my supervisor's baby boy. It was hands down the best hour of the week by far. The child is nothing short of amazing in every way possible. The most profound parts of the hour was not just connecting with him and contemplating how he viewed me but his interactions with his dad. I'm pretty close with my supervisor and I've seen him from time to time with his child but this was the first time fully where he was in total dad mode. It was awe-inspiring. It was as if he was a completely different person. It was so apparent how much he loved him. The entirety of who he was could be summed up with the great care and wholehearted energy he put in to making sure his son was all taken care of. It's funny because every day I go into work and those candid moments are what come forth whenever I see him. My perspective of him has changed. As if it was possible for me to feel any luckier that this person is part of my life, I did. What a sincere gift it is to know him and to see the love he demonstrates towards his child. The way he works, how he shows up for the students we serve, and his interactions in the office all make even more sense. All of it is for his child. I know without a shadow of a doubt that he would go to the ends of Earth for that little kiddo. It's that change in perspective that has me wondering what occurrences have done the same for others to see me more deeply or clearly.

What comes to mind is the times when my students have commented about how different I am in various settings. Lately, my work has had me broadening my horizons and showing up in different capacities. The students that see me most often are almost always caught off-guard and make sure to comment on it. They mention how they've never seen me like this, known so much about me, or experienced this version of me. It's interesting because while I strive to give my most well-rounded performance of who I am with them, there are other standards of professionalism and general decorum that get in the way. What also makes me laugh is when I get to see them in a new environment, especially with their friends. They often display characteristics I never would associate them with. It can be surprising in all senses of the word. Those instances tell me that there is always more to know about people, and that we must keep moving, changing our vantage point, and reexamining not only who other people appear to be but who we are as well. That's the grand purpose of a change in altitude.

More and more I gain clarity from simpler moments. It's the subtle things that I notice that have begun to mean to the most. A change in tone, a gentle touch, a knowing glance, and the messages are put out there. I am keen to continue to take note of who I am and how I put myself on display. I want to keep growing and becoming a person that is worth knowing. I strive to avail myself to others for them to get more significant peaks into my life. I know I must change my altitude if I ever want to see the whole image. X

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