The second installment of Changing Your Behavior (continuing with ‘the not so big life’ by Sarah Susanka) is one that I will definitely have to keep for 6 months. I’ve had at least shoulder length hair for way more than half of my life. I’ve told myself that it was mostly so that I could always choose to wear my hair up.
Well, Thursday I had it cut.
These days I find myself working to look as young as I feel. I don’t feel “my age”, so why should I look it! I know that some people feel it’s vanity to want to look at least good, if not your best. Looking back on my childhood and adolescence, I feel that my “cuteness” was the “quality” my parents admired most in me. Of course, the same turned out to be a double-edged sword when Mom also attributed the meanness other girls bestowed upon me, to my cuteness as well. Despite the fact that with some, looking good puts me at a disadvantage, I feel better when I look better.
I imagine, that many who felt that they did not look “good” in their family’s or peers’ eyes chose to not care, or even to neglect their outward appearance. They might have even held resentment for those that did look “good” in a conventional sense. The interesting part is that none of us controls what we were given in terms of our appearance, only what we choose to do with it from that point forward. Even within the same gene pool, outcomes can be quite different. To hold someone’s looks for or against them, no matter the perspective from which we perceive someone, is akin to judging someone for their parent’s or grandparent’s political beliefs and whether or not they align with our own.
While it may not be “right” to perceive people differently based on their looks, it’s something that is still difficult to avoid, at the very least on the receiving end. Whether you go with the status quo and place more value on "conventional" beauty, or go anti-establishment and prefer the "unconventional", you’re still letting appearance affect your decisions. Some people perceive the world around them from more of a visual perspective than others. For them, noticing how someone or something looks, often happens so quickly, there’s barely an opportunity to reflect. For others, it may not permeate their consciousness, but their subconscious or unconscious mind takes notes and provides more subtle ques to their response.
There’s an old story about a town with two barbers: one’s hair is haphazardly cut, the other, precisely cut. Who do you choose to give you a haircut? Let’s assume they charge the same amount, do you choose the haphazardly styled barber, assuming he cuts the other barber’s hair and vice versa, or do you choose the precisely styled barber, imagining that he understands the possible ramifications of looking your best, and that the less kempt barber chooses to cut his own hair? Or do you choose the barber that most represents your values? Your answer directly reflects your perception of the situation. Perception is personal. It doesn’t mean that your view is right and those in opposition are wrong. It doesn’t mean you’ll get the results you desire, or if you do, that those making the opposite choice will surely be disappointed with their results. Nothing about this quandary is factual. It’s all supposition and perception. There’s no “knowing” whether you will make a right or wrong choice. Obviously, this is slanted from my perception that more "conventional" appearances will work for more situations and that is more desirable, but that's just me!
Do you leave room in your life for people that are different from you, or do they get a strong sense of your disapproval and distance themselves? I’m not saying that someone wildly different from you is the best candidate for a best friend, however, you might be able to learn things from each other and gain an appreciation for your perceptions.