“Are you all set for Christmas then?” As December progresses, the rate at which this question is asked increase and, depending on how organised you are, the answers range from “I’ve started” (translation – I’ve thought about it and picked up a few bits while doing the supermarket shop, but most of it will be Amazon prime the week before) to “I’m pretty much there” (translation – everything is wrapped and I’m now starting to think about next year). Being British we never want to own up to being too good or too bad at anything, so we hide being these vague phrases so no one knows the truth.
This time of year also brings out the Christmas tree photos, the nativity play pictures and everyone having a wonderful time, so it got me thinking about how perception of other people’s lives influences our own. I am just as guilty as the next person of only sharing what I want people to know. Choosing the best version of my life. I clean my house before we have visitors, I post pictures on social media of my perfect family doing wholesome activities and I tell the girls off for saying ‘Oh my God’ in front of other parents. The truth is if you were to pop in on me unannounced on a Tuesday afternoon, you’d find clean but un-ironed clothing mountains, the girls watching TV, a toilet with goodness know what in it and me swearing in the kitchen.
Perception is reality. What this means is that how other people perceive you is the reality to them—and how you perceive yourself has nothing to do with it. You might think you are unorganised, always running late or a terrible parent; however, as long as you appear to be under control, only ‘almost’ late for everything and your children are well-behaved in public, no one will suspect anything!
It’s like putting that filter on your Instagram photos, wearing rose tinted spectacles or grandparents recounting how well behaved their children were (sorry Mum, I don’t believe my sister slept through the night from 8 weeks AND was potty trained at 18 months!). Deciding what bits people see determines how we are perceived. Everyone is in the same boat with most people putting a brave face on now and then, it’s just that different things are important to different people. I’m ok with looking like I slept in a bush on the school run and the only clothes ironed in the house are my husband’s and my daughter’s uniform (but only because he irons them), but I do always make sure the downstairs loo has been cleaned before my in-laws arrive.