(Perception n: becoming aware of something/The process, act, or faculty of perceiving. Ety: late 15c., "receiving, collection," from L. perceptionem Meaning "intuitive or direct recognition of some innate quality" is from 1827)
Okay, I'm about halfway up a rock face. The ground is approx 12-15 metres below me and I've got around another 6-8 metres to climb. After that climb I have to abseil half way down to a small ledge and wait for husbando to join me. Then I have to use various gadgets to pull down the rope, re-attach it to me, husbando and the rock and then abseil down again. But in the meantime, there's those remaining metres of rock to climb.
Graded at around a 3/4 in the book - well within my capability - the climb is closer to a 5+, something I've just mastered climbing inside, without the added complexity of more than one pitch and knowing I've got to abseil down after. The foot and hand holds are tiny pinches mainly, and my nails (and nerves) are shredded. Although you can can't see my face, I'm crying and tearfully sniffling my way up, inch by inch. After what seems like several millennia, I finish the climb and make it to the ledge husbando is on.
"Well done!" he beams at me. I am not impressed "That was so fucking scary" I am snivelling but he insists on taking a picture. "Didn't you see me crying?"
"What?! No, I didn't. You climbed that really well. There was a lady at the bottom taking pictures of you all the way up, seriously."
I think my facial expression reads WTVF. "Are you sure? Wasn't she taking pictures of the kids?" There are a bunch of them below me, climbing at what I am sure is at vastly higher grade and with a great deal less fuss.
"No, she was taking pictures of YOU because YOU climb really well".
Huh, even several weeks later, now, my brain is just starting to compute this. Right, it says to me, you think that you're crap and you were crying, but some lady, who couldn't see your face, thought that you climb well and took pictures to prove it. Is this what perception is all about?
It's something that I think we all bypass regularly, we're so blinkered to how other people see us, we just focus on our tiny narrow and sometimes rather negative viewpoint. It just seems impossible to me to be able to think outside of my own thoughts long enough to acknowledge someone else's sometimes.
I think we're doing ourselves - and others - a disservice. Firstly, we're rather rudely denying someone else their opinion - even if we don't verbalise it - we're saying to ourselves "Nope, what they think, no matter how positive it sounds, it's rubbish - they're KERAZZZZY". What if we actually said this to people. What if I'd gotten down in time to speak to that lady and said to her "Why'd you take my picture, can't you see I'm rubbish?". I don't think she would have been so pleased.
Secondly, we're not doing ourselves any favours here, instead we - or I - am just reinforcing my negative beliefs about myself. Okay, so I've told myself I'm crap at something. Not really based on what I've achieved or how I look (and let's face it, it's not like I can see what I look like climbing, I've yet to develop eyes on my back). So what's the point - I feel worse when I climb and that doesn't really help when you're scared anyway. Why do I bother? And more importantly, why can't I give myself credit for consistently pushing myself to my limits.
On the other part of our holiday - before the ankle debacle - we walked on paths barely 12-18inches wide with some pretty scary drops down one side. And I didn't turn into a nervous drooling wreck as per previous holidays, I just walked on. I put one foot after the other.
So I guess slightly in advance of Nanowrimo - and just to think about generally - I want to practise shutting off the negative, critical voice in my head and try to think about other people's perceptions of things. Not just of what I do, but generally in the world. To put myself in their place.
For example, the photographer lady might have thought "Huh, there's some people doing a multi pitch climb AND one of them is a girl (rarer than hen's teeth in chamonix it seems) that looks pretty cool, I'm going to take some snaps."
When it comes to writing, for me, vital to Nanowrimo was the ability to ignore the voice that said "erk that's some crazy-ass writing you've got going on there" or "wtf, you call *that* a plot twist" or "even your characters are bored of the story now". Instead I just had to write - and write - and write some more - until I hit 50k words. And you know what, it was so liberating to shut off that voice for once!
I'd love to hear your comments on this below.
Thank you and goodnight
Stupidgirl has left the building
PS I'll be doing a post on my top tips for Nanowrimo in the next week or so - hope you find it useful!