Making Stuff Up
By MollyinMinn on August 02, 2010
Last week I went to one of those work training sessions that, like most work training sessions, started off with an ice breaker game.
We all had to write down a little known fact about ourselves on a card. The cards were all mixed up and redistributed. We then took turns reading a card and guessing who wrote it.
The whole idea was that this was a lesson about how we all are graduates of M.S.U. Or the University of Making Stuff Up. We made assumptions by people's personalities, by their handwriting, by their age or gender, by things we had heard over the years, by gut feelings.
While it started as a cute game at a work event, it really hit me today just how powerful the impact of making stuff up can truly be.
In the absence of information, we fill it with our own version of reality. Sometimes that is just easier. Sometimes it's laziness. Sometimes it's a safety mechanism. And sometimes it just happens without reason.
But often it doesn't do any good.
Today, I went to meet a friend for lunch. I was sitting at a stoplight downtown with my windows down. Because, you know it's about 182% humidity and I still have no air conditioning.
As I was sitting there a man started to cross the street. His pants were worn and dirty. He was lugging a raggedy suitcase. He yelled something towards my car. Safety-making-stuff-up-Molly took over. I pretended I didn't hear him. I just stared straight ahead.
As he got closer he hollered out again. I looked over and gave him a slight nod and smile.
You know, kind of that, "You are a strange dude, please leave me alone and don't kill me" nod and smile.
But what happened next floored me.
He stopped in his tracks and did kind of a hop-skip-jump in the crosswalk cheering:
Whooo hooo! Girl, you have the nicest smile I have seen all day. Thanks for taking a minute to share some joy with me. You made my day!
Now who knows. He still could be a total creep. But all he was doing in that moment was trying to get my attention to say hello and that he appreciated my smile.
So as I head off to BlogHer later this week, I am promising myself one thing.
I will not let my perceptions become my reality.
I am just going to go. I am going to open my mind and my eyes and ears and arms. I am going to be myself and enjoying being with others who are just being themselves.