in which the cliche is shoved down the reader’s throat.

I woke up this morning with the words “perception is everything”  mysteriously written on my wrist. I have no idea where they came from, and after my morning run, they were gone just as instantly as they appeared. The origins are certainly mysterious though; I like to imagine that a sweet little guardian angel snuck into my room in the middle of the night and printed out that message to me as a special reminder in this time of such tumult and change in my life. It’s good to remember at times like this that perception truly is reality. I know it’s a cliché and that clichés are to be avoided in quality writing, but you have to think sometimes, “well gee, there has to be a reason why these phrases are so oft repeated, right?” Right-oh.

I’ve written on here so many times about what my life has been like growing up as a military child. Well, here’s another anecdote.

Every three years or so, my family would pack up our books and our dishes into their own boxes cushioned with packing peanuts, and I would board a plane with a backpack full of books and toys. I would then proceed to stare out the window at the rapidly shrinking roads and buildings and feel the lift of the plane in the pit of my stomach. This lift signaled more to me than the obvious fact that my body was accelerating into the sky: the lift signaled my  definite departure from my old way of life and consequently from the old Alex, whoever she was. Every time I took off on that plane I would make a silent, solemn vow to myself that I would change this time, that I would become a different, more exotic, and more interesting person.

Well. The long months of festering summer would go by and I would read and read and play pretend and write in my notebooks and read some more. And when the fall finally arrived I would excitedly buy my school supplies and rush home to write my name on every notebook and binder, anxious to imagine the words that would fill them throughout the upcoming year and the circumstances they would be filled under. I would bravely enter each new school in the same way: scared to death with a knot of fear in my stomach. It soon became very clear that there would be no dramatic changes in my character anytime soon. I was still Alex Laughlin, the new girl, the quiet one, the smart one, the weird one.

And this is where I wish I could interject into my own history and scream in my former self’s face that NO ONE KNEW WHO I WAS. I understood this fact in theory but I always thought that deep down they could see right through me. Not true (this kind of assurance comes from observing a fair share of extremely fake people during my high school years). I can’t say that I wish I had changed in some way during each of those moves because in reality, the moves themselves had an irrevocable effect on my character and personality, but I have to say that I would have been slightly more at peace (not to mention thoroughly entertained daily) if I had really been sure that the strangers in my classrooms couldn’t actually read my mind.

I suppose the moral here is that the world sees in you what you see in yourself, and the world will treat you how you expect you deserve to be treated.

Embrace that weird kid inside yourself, because I’ve seen a room full of girls who are exact replicas of each other. And it’s not pretty. It’s not even cute. It’s just boring.

Oh, and perception is everything. Thanks, guardian angel.


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