Tuesday, May 6, 2008

But, Don't You Know Who I Am?

Wow. What a crazy month! April flew by with barely time for a blogging "hello"! I have been to NYC, Wisconsin and all over North Carolina this month. I have been so happy to have great opportunities to speak at really exciting venues, begin my "Finding Your Voice" series for patients and families and I'm thrilled to say I was able to get certified in the "Respecting Choices" Advance Care Planning Facilitation and Instructor technique. I keep booking "gigs" and the book continues to gain momentum. Now, the key is finding balance! Isn't it always, though?

In between all of these things, I have attended quite a few CF fundraisers and similar events. One of those was this past Saturday night. Parents of a CF girl (Dad was quite the rock star in the 80's and 90's) threw an amazing concert a local hot spot with all of the money going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It was awesome--my kind of fundraiser!! Congratulations Amy and John for putting together such an amazing two nights of fun and raising tons of money for CF research!!

My story is more about the opening band, however. I had never heard them before but my friend who came with me had. They were almost done playing when she casually mentioned the lead singer's name.
"Did you say Chris Stevens?" I asked with my mouth agape.
"Yea" she said excited at the connection, "You knew his band the Delboys?"
"No!" I proclaimed beaming, "I know his dog Coco from the vet hospital where I used to work! Coco was my favorite!!"

So what, you ask? It was just one of those moments when I really understood the limits of our perceptions. I saw this man dozens of times and knew him as a middle-aged guy with a wife, kids and the cutest Powder Puff Chinese Crested I had ever seen. There was nothing there to ever give me the hint that he was a musician and a rock star of sorts.
I wondered if it was frustrating for him to go about his day and know that people had no idea about his hidden "coolness." Who knew he was hip?
I could almost feel my brain twist when I was trying to align my previous perceptions with the man I was watching rock it out on stage. We make so many assumptions--how often they are wrong!

I suffer from Misunderstood-itis. I really don't like it when people make quick assumptions about me based on how I look, my educational background or where I live. 99% of the time, I feel like their perceptions are wrong and yet, how often do I stop to check my own? Rarely.

From now on, instead of assuming that what stands before me represents a person in entirety, I will assume the opposite. After all, the guy with the with the dreadlocks could be an accountant. The guy with the mini-van could be a rock star. The girl with the 2.5 kids could be a CEO of a Fortune 500. The girl with the fancy business suit driving a Lexus might live at home with Mom and have a drinking problem!! The person who stands before me is only a sliver of who they are.

I, for one, would love it if people would assume that I am much more than they can see. I will now try to extend the same courtesy to those I meet.


Midlife Midwife said...

funny that you should blog about this. I was just thinking this week about how little I know about my patients I see each day. I don't even have the satisfaction of seeing them with their "real clothes" on. Paper gowns look the same on CEO's, drug addicts, grandmothers, rock stars and circus performers.

Congrats on being so busy! That's great news.

Sarah said...

Hi Tiffany, I see that your show for the People's Pharmacy is airing this week. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tiffany,
Heard you on NPR. You have inspired me to buy your book for a good friend of mine who had a kidney transplant 2yrs. ago. She has totally become her illness. I know I can not help her out of this, but I feel your story of experience may help her see herself and her innnerself in a deeper way. Thank you for being so courageous. Your words and actions will go very far.

Kathryn said...

Hi Tiffany,
The fun is in the adventure of getting to know people, including you. I missed the NPR so I will have to get it on Podcast. We all do make assumptions based on appearance and first impressions. Sometimes we change our opinions from positive to negative and then find out we were right in the first place. Sometimes we probably miss out on a friendship. I tend to be reserved and know many think that is snobby or stand-offish when it is actually a part of an introverts social skills set- find out what you are getting into before you dive in.

I admire people who are extroverted but I will never be one of them.

I am very happy all is going well with your business.