Personal Narrative 5: Perspective is not Reality

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

A personal narrative about why perspective is not reality.

Perception is not Reality

 

Right now, you’re reading this essay. You may be thinking something very similar to what I am while writing this, or something completely different. That’s perception. Your perspective is your point of view on things. It’s linked to communication in the sense that you take what you perceive and try to communicate that to others. It can be influenced by your sight, smell, and other senses, but it can also be influenced by events or things that happen in your life, and even things that don’t. This can cause your perceptions to change over time, for the better or the worse. Since everyone leads different lives, their perceptions are different. This can lead to miscommunication. I know all this because I’ve experienced what it’s like to have your perceptions changed based on things that happen.

Picture a bright summer afternoon, out in an open grassy field. There was a white, pretty big gazebo in the middle of it all, almost filled with people. I was at a raffle contest. It was divided into two parts: the first part was an elimination competition, and the second part was a random raffle for the winner. The prize was $1000. It was a bracket-style tournament, with sixteen people competing in total. I was one of them, and I was excited to try and win.

The first part of the elimination was a rock paper scissors battle (it sounds silly, but that’s what happened). I was up against this other boy whose name was Alex, and a guy was refereeing the match. The winner was the best of three points. I got the first point with rock, then he got the second point with scissors. The score was tied up. If I made this, I would have a chance to win the entire tournament. If I didn’t, I would be eliminated. We both got ready. He put out rock, and I made paper. I had won the first part of the tournament!

There were eight people left - eight had been eliminated - and I was one of them. The next phase was a beanbag toss. We had a small five-minute break in between rounds, where I got a drink of water from my parents and ate a cookie. I glanced over to another part of the field and saw another kid, dressed in a pretty nice outfit, soberly talking to his parents. He looked wealthy, but his parents looked worried. Then the referee called us out and the round started. We were split into two teams of four and had a chance to huddle up with our teams and talk about how to play it.

This round’s objective was to be the last team standing. You had to pass the beanbag around in a circle, and all four people on the team that dropped their beanbag first would be eliminated. There was a time limit of three minutes and if no team dropped their bag within that amount of time, the team with the most points (passes) would be eliminated. The kid I saw earlier was on my team.

The timer started, and we started passing the bag around. Our team started slowly but then got faster. There was a digital scoreboard showing the scores. We kept going, and as we neared the end, the scores seemed about tied. The other team was three points ahead, and we couldn’t catch up. In the final ten seconds, I saw a girl from the other team glance at the scoreboard - right as the bag was passed to her. She fumbled the bag and dropped it. Our team had won the second phase! We went into our break. I wasn’t thirsty this time, but then I noticed the referee doing something. He picked out two names and called them out. He eliminated a boy and a girl that were on my last team. The only two left standing were me and the boy I’d seen earlier.

The last round started - it was a random raffle. I saw the referee holding a clear, glass bowl. I saw two slips of paper - presumably my name and the other kid’s name. The referee mixed up the bowl - as much as he could with only two pieces of paper, but I thought I saw another piece of paper inside. He pulled out the piece of paper and read the name - “Aaron”. The other kid had won the contest. I was pretty sad, but not that much.

Then the host walked up on stage and said a speech. The kid that won had turned out to be a family friend of his. He said that Aaron was living with his parents in an apartment. They were on rent and were about to get evicted because they didn’t have enough money to pay. They were wearing their best clothes today to seem more presentable, and they were depending on this contest so the host had tipped the odds a little in their favor - there were three slips of paper in the last raffle because two of them had the name “Aaron” on them. He apologized for the unfairness but said he was happy for the winner. 

In the end, I was happy for them too. Although the money would have been nice, it went to someone who definitely needed it more. Even if someone looks fine, you don’t know what they’re going through. That’s your perspective - it’s based on whatever you know and can change if what you know changes. After this happened, my own perspective changed and I always looked further into things before concluding. In fact, we can see perspective in books. One such example of this is in the book “You Don’t Know Me”, by David Klass.

On page 211, paragraph 2, we find this passage: “But her marriage broke up several years ago, and I believe that it ended very painfully for her. And it’s certainly no secret that she has a relatively serious medical condition… the final straw. I was summoned to the ladies’ faculty bathroom, where Mrs. Gabriel - Moonface to you - was having a breakdown.” From Dr. Whitefield’s perspective, everyone knows about Mrs. Gabriel’s condition and that she was close to breaking. From John’s perspective, no one knew about this. Dr. Whitefield never knew what John was going through to cause him to have an outburst, either. He was going through something quite similar to Mrs. Gabriel. 

On page 212, paragraph 3, we find this sentence: “I just got off the phone with your father, who impressed me.” This is a big miscommunication. All Dr. Whitefield knows about John’s not-father is what he deciphered from their conversation on the phone. We know that John’s not-father is a bad person because we’ve seen what he does.

Another example of events changing perception is on page 179, paragraph 2: “ ‘John, do you have any idea the amount of trouble you caused me?’ she demands.” Gloria was grounded for a weekend and missed a horse riding contest. John was kidnapped by his not-father, beaten, forced to lift heavy items for a night, and had his mother leave. If we compare the two, there's no question that John had the worse punishment. From Gloria's perspective, she had it really bad, because she didn’t know what John went through.

Your perceptions change, for the good or the bad, based on what happens in your life. This ties into our big question - why do we read? Adding onto what I’ve said in previous essays, we read to learn and find new things. This changes our perception of the world, mostly for the good. Reading can help us to understand our lives more and to become better people.


Submitted: July 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Atiksh Paul. All rights reserved.

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