The reason why I chose to unpack this phrase “looks can be deceiving” today was because I was in my room trying to will myself to leave the house. I almost convinced myself not to go out because the weather looked cold and grey. As a freelancer, blogger, and author, I really don’t have to leave my house if I don’t want to, but any logical person knows this is very unhealthy. And so, I forced myself out of the house and…the weather is not cold and grey at all…I’d been deceived.
What I had thought was bad weather, weather that was going to allow me to stay cooped up in my house, was actually fine. Good, even. I was sweating in my high-neck jumper!
And so I say to you, don’t believe everything you think you see…
Now, this can be a big deal in many areas of life. A “dirty” look from someone in the street, the weather, someone leaving a mess – these can be misconstrued. You see, this “looks can be deceiving” phrase is all about perspective. Our perspective. One person sees a “dirty” look from someone in the street and thinks nothing of it or doesn’t engage, another sees it and thinks that they must have a problem and they seek to find out what. When in reality, that person is just having a bad day. The look was a general look.
We all are so quick to trust what we think we see. The person making a mess must be a miscreant who doesn’t intend to clean it up. A person lying on the sofa, feet up, must be a lazy-bum with nothing going for them. The person we see watching TV instead of reading the book next to them must be uneducated. The person at the shops in the middle of the day on a weekday must be unemployed and on benefits.
We make generalisations based on little fact, or rush to judgements based on previous experiences, but they don’t always lead to the right conclusions. “Evidence” from what we’ve seen is not enough. The person who made the mess is in a rush and will clean it later. The person on the sofa is depressed. The person watching TV is too tired to read today. The person at the shops is a freelance/remote worker who makes more money than you do.
The things you think you know is often not the case.
This phrase is also a big problem for society. People look at a person or a situation and decide what they think without considering the fact that looks really can be deceiving. The girl with the short shaven hair must be a lesbian or transgender. The black boy in the hoodie must be a gang member. The woman looking grey and stressed and thin must be a drug addict. The man with neat hair, a higher voice, and a pink shirt must be gay.
And the crazy thing is, we all seem to feel like doing these “deductions” all the time. Like “oh, look at me, I can spot the gay person in the room!” But…so what? I found myself having a somewhat drunken argument with a friend once who’d said “that guy over there is gay” and I said “so?” and my friend said why they thought the guy was gay and again I said “so?” Because…SO?
And the thing is, we can’t know if we’re right about a person without asking. So, why make the judgement? What does it achieve except prove to yourself and others that you have a very limited perspective of what this thing should look like or that thing should be like and then use it to jump to conclusions that can be plain offensive like 9 times out of 10?!
I hold my hands up, even I do this. But as I’m writing this I ask myself frecking why?!
You don’t know anything about sexuality. You don’t know anything about race or religion or culture. You don’t know anything about that person or their life, so don’t even try to – unless what you intend to do is go up to them and say hi, let’s be friends.
(But I digress…sorry about the mini rant there!)
Our tainted perspectives can also extend to ourselves. We think we look unattractive when we don’t. We think we’re a loser when we’re not. We think someone is laughing at us when they’re laughing with us.
I believe that what we look at in this life is the same, but what we all see can be very different.
Take literature, for example. I’d always loved my English lessons because it was fascinating how we can all read the same book but each draw different things from it. This is the same in life, society, and ourselves. We each read the same book, but we draw different conclusions from it. One person can look at you and see a hardworking single mother. Another can look at you and see a stressed out, depressed, or drugged up person. And you, you can look at yourself in the mirror and see a failure who’s in over their head.
But none of these dictates who you really are, truly. They’re all tainted perspectives, based on little to no evidence, prejudice, jealousy, anger, bitterness, other people having a bad day, or you yourself being low and not seeing yourself for who you really are.
Looks are deceiving. They just are.
Next time you come to a conclusion about a situation, a person, or yourself, question it. Don’t trust what you think you see. Alter your perspective.