Our Perceptions Are Our Reality

Our Perceptions Are Our Reality

Perception is, after all, reality, and it's our individual truths that actually matter, at the end of the day.


"Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This doesn't mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don't go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage," Ivanka Trump once wrote.

The quote from Ivanka Trump is often ridiculed, but has some truth to her perspective.

There's a documentary that I watched on Netflix a while ago, "Take Your Pills," that sparked a question about the role of adderall and amphetamines on mental performance: they don't really make you more able to perform complex cognitive tasks, they make you think you can.

Likewise, in Season 5 of "The Wire," Chris and Snoop teach Michael a valuable lesson about street reputation: it doesn't matter what someone did or didn't do. It matters that people think they did it. They walk into a house and kill a rival drug dealer and his whole family because they heard he called their boss, Marlo, a homophobic slur.

"You heard? You ain't sure?" Michael says.

"People say he said it," Snoop responds.

"Doesn't matter if he said it or not. People think he said it. You can't let that shit go," Chris says.

For reputation, it's clear that perception often matters more than reality. People have to think you're good at something, or have a certain dispositional trait and word of honor for that to go. Michael brings up the point of why it matters: if Marlo knows he isn't what that dealer called him, why does it matter? But in the world of Chris, Snoop, and Michael, perception matters more than reality. In fact, perception is reality.

The term "reality" tries to assess certainty to situations that are inherently uncertain, and while this article isn't a defense of the age-old maxim that perception matters more than reality, the truth is that few people can ever see an untainted truth - even when witnessing the same event. The Rashomon Effect refers to how different people can witness the same event and give it completely contradictory interpretations. In that regard, the only reality that matters is our own. Perception and reality aren't different things. Our perceptions are our realities, and the world works by people acting based on things they perceive, not a complex analysis of every single issue and nuance.

We know of the psychological self-fulfilling prophecy: tell yourself you're going to have a horrible day at work, and you're more likely to change your actions so you have a terrible day. But I buy into many of these psychological phenomena too much and try to apply them to my daily life: sometimes, I try to change my perceptions to change my reality. I attempt to trick myself and upend the story and beliefs I've been living my whole life - and that's okay, but it is a process that is gradual and takes much more than a single change in thinking.

There is an idea in social psychology that attitudes follow behavior, and that we can change our attitudes by changing our behavior. I can see the places where this works in my life: when I think I have writer's block and I'm unable to write, the action that curbs that feeling is to start writing. When I think I don't have the energy to run on a given day or time, the action that curbs that attitude is to go outside and go on a run. Sometimes, I'll think that a class is really boring and not valuable to my education, and then that attitude will completely change the moment I raise my hand and either ask a question or participate in class discussion.

Something I have always advised writers, when they lack motivation or they don't believe in their abilities, is to look back at what they have already done, articles or works they have already written. Take some time to give yourself some credit and compassion, and see what you can do with that. I do this myself when I don't believe in my ability to write: I read some of my past articles that myself and others have found particularly meaningful. When I lack the motivation to run, I look back at the last time I ran 20 or more miles and the mental strength I exuded to do that.

There is a line I enjoy from Meg Jay's 2018 article in the Wall Street Journal, "The Secrets of Resilience," that the best way to harness and awaken our inner resilience in the face of tough circumstances is to "think back on a time when you were challenged and give yourself credit for how you made it through." And so the key to bettering our perceptions, attitudes, and henceforth actions is to realize that we are always growing. We are always going up a spiral staircase that can seem repetitive, but always progressive. We learn something new every time, and we gain more strength with each passing difficult circumstance.

I do not know whether my life lessons and adages are truth or reality, but they are my reality, and that's perhaps what matters. Perception is, after all, reality, and it's our individual truths that actually matter, at the end of the day.

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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