Are Your Perceptions Mismatched With Your Reality?

International Womens Day is nearly upon us so of course my inbox has been inundated with invitations to celebrate. This year I’m feeling less inclined to join the bandwagon of celebration or commiseration and instead I opt for just one event, the launch of Womens Agenda, inaugural report on Womens Ambition.

Although this article isn’t a commentary on the report I can’t resist the urge to congratulate all the women who, when asked for their priorities in 2017, stated ‘earning more money’. It was a relief to hear blatant economics winning over, historically more acceptable musings, around ‘passion or meaning’.

The report was launched by Womens Agenda owner and editor Angela Priestley with key findings highlighted and discussed by a panel of experts. A particular comment by a panelist pierced my listening. “As a woman of colour I live the double negative, I’m coloured and a woman’.

I grew up on Sydneys’ North Shore surrounded by Smiths and Joneses. I attended an all-girls school, which was predominantly white, in fact I clearly remember the two outsiders, a Jewish girl and an Asian girl.   As my thoughts travelled 30 years forward to my current circle of friends, acquaintances and colleagues, I felt a sudden dis-ease as it dawned on me that my world is still predominantly white!

But I’m a Sydney-sider, formerly married to a man of Jewish heritage and I live in Darlo, how is it that I can be so Anglo! I think of myself as a contemporary multi-cultured city-slicker but sadly the facts don’t seem to be supporting my thoughts.

It’s well-known that our brain can’t distinguish between fact and fiction therefore our thoughts literally create our reality. So, if my brain agrees with my thoughts about being this multi-cultured city-slicker then my brain says, ‘rest easy’.

The event closes and I make my way home pondering this intrusion into my self-perception when I have my sliding doors moment.

A Mardi Gras store popped up on my street corner a few days back and through the window I see this gloriously attired tranny. She’s wearing a silver ball gown, a flowing blonde wig and she’s cutting the hair of a young man seated in a barbers chair. I glance past the tranny and see men parading around in leather attire, women with their tits out and I feel awkward and very different to them. The pedestrian light signals green and I start across the street but I hesitate and turn back.

“Fuck it Suzy, confront the discomfort, step into that shop and say hello”

So, I waltz in with as much chutzpah as I can muster, grab a glass of wine and start a conversation. Nice people, standard conversation, only noteworthy because in that moment I took action to change my reality.

I buy an “I love Darlo” t-shirt and walk home feeling a little lighter.

A few days later I wear the t shirt to a Mardi Gras party and everyone wants one. “Too easy” I say, “you can get one across the road, but I’m not sure you can buy the experience”.

A spontaneous street party erupts under my window in the early hours of the following day and although I’ll be up trekking at 5:30am, I pull the t-shirt over my head and make my way downstairs. The vibe is nothing other than loving and beautiful, I dance with strangers and speak with an on-duty young police officer. As I wander through the crowd a guy taps me on the shoulder and says, “I designed that t-shirt and I love that you’re wearing it” and in that moment, I feel I’ve just made my world a little bigger.

We think of ourselves as global citizens but our perceptions are not always a reliable indicator of reality.  No judgement and no need to kick ourselves for it, but there is a need for reflection. Action is more powerful than celebration or commiseration, and reflection on self, more potent than deflection to others.


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